JK Russ and Matthew Couper

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Opening June 10th at Zoya Tommy Gallery enigmatic artists Matthew Couper and JK Russ will showcase their recent creative efforts in Salon of Desert Martyrs. Darkly mysterious yet uncanny in its’ familiarity, the work of Couper and Russ transports the viewer to an eerie and poignant world.

Artists Reception: Friday, June 10th from 6-8pm
Live Performance: Friday, June 10th from 6-7pm
On View: June 10th 2016 to July 9th 2016
Where: Zoya Tommy Gallery 4102 Fannin St. Houston, TX 77004


On opening night Matthew Couper will stun the crowd with his live performance titled Over, Over, Over, Over, Over, Over and Over. Personifying the phrase sex, drugs and rock and roll, the work of Couper and Russ beams with dark eccentrism. Salon of Desert Martyrs explores post-industrial perception of gender, politics and religion through work that highlights the relationship between humans and their environments.

Matthew Couper is currently based in Las Vegas afterimmigrating to the USA from New Zealand in 2010. His practice over the past decade has appropriated aspects of western Art History including Trecento, Quattrocento and the Baroque. Couper’s work adapts established narrative traditions of Spanish Colonial retablos and ex–votos to discuss the space between myth, religion and art politics.

Matthew Couper’s work melds modern and traditional imagery resulting in a spellbinding effect. He recently stated that “like any good Johnny Cash, Nick Cave or Pixies song, you’ve got to have sex, death and religion fueling the fire.” Couper exhibits in the USA at Room, Brooklyn, NY; La Luz De Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; France at Gimpel+Muller, Paris and New Zealand at PAULNACHE; Gisborne and Rayner Bros, Whanganui.

Matthew Couper is represented in Houston by Zoya Tommy Gallery. This will be Couper’s second two-person exhibition with Zoya Tommy Gallery, he exhibited with Charles Krafft in 2013. Couper also represented Zoya Tommy Gallery in the Texas Contemporary Art Fair of 2014.
JK Russ is also originally from New Zealand and relocated to Las Vegas in 2010. Working predominantly with the medium of hand-constructed collage, she creates fantasy environments where high fashion, high art and hybrid human/creatures merge. The women she portrays have been described as “strong, sexy and alien”, flourishing amongst spiny cacti and dramatic rock formations.

Russ’ subjects occupy an unearthly plane marked by sexual commodification and eco-tourism. Recently Russ has extended her practice to create large-scale audience-participation collage installations, as seen at the Life is Beautiful festival and the P3Studio artist residency at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, in partnership with New York’s Art Production Fund. JK Russ was the featured artist for VEGAS magazine’s Art of the City edition 2015. In August 2016, her work will feature in ‘Contemporary Nevada: State of the State’ at the Nevada Museum of Art. This is JK’s first exhibition with Zoya Tommy Gallery.

Blending their techniques the married couple achieves seamless symbiosis in their recent collaborative efforts. The composite works of art unapologetically personify humanities relationship with consumerism, sexuality, and religion. Matthew Couper and JK Russ come together in Salon of Desert Martyrs to showcase both individual and collaborative work that radiates originality. Matthew Couper and JK Russ have been a vital component in the growth of the Las Vegas art scene since 2010.