Kris Knight’s fantasy boys will be very sad if they aren’t snatched up at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s ArtAttack fundraiser.

A Toronto-based, internationally exhibited painter, Knight was commissioned to create a series of limited-edition prints for the theatre’s annual art auction in his signature melancholic-erotic style.

This year’s curatorial team, headed up by Chris Ironside, includes Tuck Shop curator Keith Cole,  painter and illustrator Lauchie Reid, painter Winnie Truong, and visual artists Derek Sullivan and Meera Margaret Singh.

“I started curating this collection by selecting artists whose work deals with the body and a further merging of human and ‘otherness,’” Singh says. “I was interested in having a group of works that were transgressive in their exploration of the body and that flirted with the definition of ‘portraiture.’”

Flirtatious portraiture is something of Knight’s specialty. The print series he has donated, titled Ceremony, explores his predilection for subtle sexual imagery, inspired by “mythology, ritual and celebration. It’s a work that’s both innocent and erotic, that harkens back to notions of ancient Greece when sexuality was celebrated and decorating your home with images of sexuality was considered good taste,” he says. “It’s also inspired by the earliest daguerreotypes of homosexual pornography, where prints of barely clad men were costumed with classical laurels and other props to pass as ‘artistic’ or ‘educational,’ if these clandestine prints ever got into the wrong hands.”

The laurels decorating his 20 prints are hand embellished by the artist, giving each of the blushing, pouty-lipped, smooth-chested boys that one-of-a-kind touch. Knight says that his work is always heavily narrative-based, drawing from the transitional nature of adolescence and memory; there is a story behind each beautiful, sad-eyed boy. “I definitely think of myself as a storyteller,” he says.

For Singh, ArtAttack has the additional purpose of bringing attention to the talented artists selected. “More than anything,” she says, “I’m looking forward to gathering and celebrating artistic communities and their power to congregate and support one another."

This is also the reason Knight is so excited to contribute his works to the auction. "I have lived in this city now for over a decade and have seen a lot of my favourite theatres, galleries and record shops close in a blink of an eye that were once deemed ‘iconic’ Toronto,” he says. “Supporting local and independent artistic institutions like Buddies is vital in keeping the creative blood flow of this city moving in a way that just isn't about revenue or mainstream appeal.”

Knight’s prints are available for sale on the Buddies website for $500 each. If there are any left they will be auctioned off at ArtAttack.

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