Kevin Llewellyn's paintings of female fetish models doing things like sticking paper leaves in their pussies would generally be considered pretty dark by the average person. However, to edgy celebrities like Nikki Sixx and Dennis Rodman, it's nothing too out of the ordinary. I mean, Rodman got married to Carmen Electra while wearing a dress and legend has it that Nikki Sixx once injected whisky into his veins during the pinnacle of Motley Crue's success. Anyway, Llewellyn's Caravaggio-inspired portraits [that's a super snobby way of saying classical as opposed to modern] felt at home on the walls of celebrity-tattoo-artist Kat Von D's gallery on La Brea named WONDERLAND LA.
The exhibition has passed, but in its place forever lives a catalog [otherwise known as a book] of Llewellyn's paintings published by the gallery. Inside are a bunch of images and essays set against grungy concrete backdrops that say things like “To be in a room with this painting is slightly awkward and uncomfortable. It feels like a giant eye is watching you.” The quote is in reference to a work named “The Beauty Bar.” It's a highly rendered portrait of a shaved vagina with a hip tat. So, I assume the giant eye they're referring to is actually the model's clit.
However, my favorite quote in the book is from the essay in the back written by Laura Cherry.
“It is the moment right before the cum shot. Frozen. Lewd and wet with motion.”
Laura is one of Kevin's many models and in about a page and a half she sums up his practice in an extremely elegant, yet grotesque way, as you just read. The book also features quotes from Dr. Louis Zona, who is the director and chief curator of The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. But as you can probably imagine, his words are much too tame to be featured in an article for the NSFW section of the LA Weekly.
Not just anyone would be willing to pose in the way Kevin needs them to. So, his method of choice is revealed in one section of the book across the page from his painting of a girl who has her nipples subtly exposed from a bikini top.
“The artist chose a model that worked in the bondage industry. She brings to the table pure sex and want.”
It goes on to talk about the various ways he had her pose before he knew that he had her captured in just the right way. At one point she even had blood on her thighs, which may or may not have been real. After all, in Laura's essay she does mention that some of her companions in the room when she visits his studio are women with menstrual blood.
The gothic, or dark art as it's often called, isn't typically treated with respect in the highbrow art community. That being said, it still has a popular place with people on the fringes of society. I don't mean that as an offense by any means. If anything I'd imagine that they'd like to be categorized as such. But at the end of the day Kevin Llewellyn is such a skilled and talented painter that regardless of his subject matter he can tell the art world to go fuck itself. Hopefully, he'll live long enough to do so too, since it seems like he often battles with a deep depression as seen in his self-portrait where he's pointing a gun at his head in an act of committing suicide. Jeepers!