Kestin Cornwall

Contemporary figurative painting Black Canadian artist Kestin Cornwall

Kestin Cornwall Artist Biography

Kestin Cornwall grew up in the Windsor Ontario area. His father is Grenadian and his mother is American, and he spent much of his youth in Detroit, Michigan with family. In 2001, he moved to Oakville, Ontario to begin his training at Sheridan College. While completing the Art Fundamentals and Illustration programs, Cornwall’s focus and love for the arts grew quickly. He increasingly combined both classical drawing and painting with modern digital reproduction and screen-printing. In 2006, Cornwall won the CAPIC Best In Show Award.

Over the past ten years, Cornwall has focused on creating relevant progressive art. He has used a varied practice of combining hand drawings, digitally removing the human hand, and then forcing the element of the human hand back into the work. Using elements such as painting, wheat-pasting, screen-printing, installation, and drawing to explore the relationship between art, human rights, politics, sex, and freedom. Cornwall critically charts current political, social, and economic landscapes with compositions brimming with references to media, popular culture, music, and art history. He enjoys challenging what’s considered “common” and feels it is the duty of an artist to add beauty to the world while invoking the unending social responsibility to capture thought. Many of his influences include contemporary graphic realism, street art, and old comics, with a complimenting factor of mystery, often mirroring timeless depictions of pop culture. Each piece depicts an analysis of our obsession with beauty, age, and change. Kestin Cornwall lives and works in Toronto.


My unconventional mixed-media visual work incorporates classic portraiture and classical references with new-age hybrid art image creation. I use a varied method of combining beautiful hand drawings, strong digital image-making, screen-printing, and ink transfers. I bring this together with skilled acrylic and aerosol painting on wood and other canvases. In the 21st century, everything is affected by digital media and the Internet. Most works of art created today will be seen on digital devices more times than in person. I create art to encourage interactions―physically and digitally. My work aims to ask questions regarding equality, immigration, and what it means to be Black in Canada. We are navigating through a very important time, our country’s demographics are changing. It is important that we critically chart our current political, social, and economic landscapes. I create art to document this with compositions brimming with references to media, popular culture, music, and art history. The work aims to add beauty to the world while invoking the unending social responsibility to capture thought.

As Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color we are not accustomed to seeing nuanced reflections of ourselves in contemporary visual culture. I create work featuring many of these faces and issues we as minorities encounter, in an attempt to be accurately represented in popular contemporary culture. I like happy mistakes in art, such as ink bleeds. As well as artwork affected by age, sun, rain, and natural elements, which creates areas that are worn away or lifted. I think some mistakes, simplicity, and chance are beautiful fundamentals of creating. I am truly captivated by the development process of taking a simple idea from nothing and watching it grow into a completed project that can not only be seen but also touched, interpreted, and enjoyed by the viewer. Images allow me to share an idea or evoke an emotional response almost instantly. I channel this emotion and energy into creating, inspiring new work, and exploring new ideas. 

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