Alex Kuno and the cute end of the world

Categories: Art
Ouroboros Festival .jpg
Ouroboros Festival by Alex Kuno
Walking through Saturday night's opening of "Miscreants of Tiny Town and the Unknown Unknowns" at Cult Status Gallery was kind of like flipping through the irregularly shaped pages of an 18th-century storybook where each painting illustrates its own little morbid tale of doom. Alex Kuno's characters go through all sorts of eerie and awful adventures, but they somehow manage to maintain a certain pluckiness throughout. 

On his blog, Kuno writes that the series was in part inspired by society's fears of the apocalypse. He's partially poking fun of those fears, but at the same time -- at least with this latest edition -- he is also "coming to terms with the sad inevitability of it."
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Acknowledging Change by Alex Kuno
Indeed, who wouldn't be frightened by two-headed dogs chomping away at their own flesh, bird-like monsters carrying the body bags of some desperate creatures, houses that are hands pointing heavenward, and ominous black smoke filling the sky? These are images loaded with the horror and foreboding of the end of the world, and yet, the innocent looking creatures inspire us to root for them. Perhaps, after all, their courage and cuteness can win out in the end. 

In Acknowledging Change, an emaciated red-haired boy sits up out of a web-like shell that still covers his shins and feet. He looks down behind him to see the sac where his upper body was just encapsulated. His face and chest are dripping with ooze. His expression is pensive, and doesn't give away his emotions. Is he resigned? Afraid? Curious? It's not clear. But the detail of little flowers sprouting out of the earth surrounding him suggest a hopefulness. Perhaps we are doomed, but maybe in the end there is also rebirth. 
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Shelter by Alex Kuno
In Shelter, a boy with rabbit legs and rabbit hands wears a tattered coat and scarf with a hat that contains rabbit ears. He looks fearfully behind him as he approaches a little girl. She is inside a box with a lid in the middle of a field with scattered upside-down plants. She wears the same sort of hat, and also has rabbit hands. She reaches toward him, as if to entreat him to enter into her place of safety. The boy carries in his arms a flower. Is it for the little girl? Maybe the two will survive the Armageddon, and live on to make new rabbit-human babies one day.

There's a resonance of hope that permeates the series. No matter how awful and inevitable the end times seem to be, you want the characters to survive in the end. That's the power of narrative. Because even if it's meant to be satire, Kuno is so successful at creating characters that draw you in, you can't help wanting to fill in the rest of the story. Where did they come from? What will happen to them now? In Kuno's vision, the end of the world is coming, but maybe, just maybe, a few heroes will survive to tell the tale. 
Cult Status Gallery
2913 Harriet Ave S., Minneapolis
Through April 17
You can also see the artist's work at

Location Info


Cult Status Gallery - CLOSED

2913 Harriet Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN

Category: General

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