New Paintings by Kim Krause – Part of the Exhibition Slide at The Fitton Center (Hamilton)
By Cate Yellig
In a brief curatorial statement we get the gist of the exhibition Slide: Sculptural Installations by Pamela DeCoker and Alysia Fischer, Paintings by Kim Krause and CK Nichelson. It mingles four Ohio based artists who utilize physical materials and action for the revelation of their artwork. Viewing myriad abstractions, we are asked to consider how they offer both playful and dangerous associations with movement.
At first glance, it seemed any unifying qualities between the artists and their output seemed tenuous. Wandering from gallery to gallery, one passes the playful and weighty forms of Alysia Fischer’s hand cut Chrysalis sculptures made from the reclaimed inner plastic of tires. I found myself pleasantly surprised by the acrylic paintings and installations by Pamela DeCoker whose purity of minimalist forms rested stoically in a quiet gallery. As the journey progressed, the subtle parallels between these artists and their vastly different creative output emerged.
Physical process and meticulous execution are the most obvious connections, where you see the inner workings of creative minds meet the execution of ideas played out in repetitive movements, gestures, and meditations. The rich, dense layers of thickly applied acrylic in CK Nichelson’s paintings capture our attention, mesmerizing with more shimmer than the eye can see. The journey reached its high point with fourteen new paintings by Cincinnati artist Kim Krause, the Eleusinian Mysteries.
With an impressive one hundred twenty exhibitions, including eleven solo shows, Krause considers being an artist a way of living that requires daily invention. He does this by engaging the world fully, on his own terms, through paint in a continual exploration of imagination. Not concerned with, “what is going to happen in a painting,” rather focusing on, “moving toward something,” we see the evolution of a constant life-affirming process of creating with mind and hand.
Similar to previous bodies of work, this series references Greek mythology for academic inspiration, the story of the Eleusinian Mysteries developed over 3,000 years ago when the Cult of Demeter created an initiation ceremony, centered around the abduction of Persephone. In a state of frenzy induced by kykeon a concoction of barley and pennyroyal know for its psychotropic effects, the initiates marched to the town of Eleusis where a great and formidable secret was revealed to them. Krause’s series explores various stages of the Mysteries attempting to make visual the emotional circumstances such a revelation might produce. Sometimes it is challenging to mesh the formal qualities of Krause’s paintings with the Classical past, in particular, with such an emotionally charged conceptual foundation.
Entering the gallery presents the first hint of what is to come with four small black and white paintings called Elusinian Studies #1-4. These delightful paintings are a stark contrast to the bold color palettes of the larger works on panel and canvas. The heavy use of line and various saturated planes of white define shape, forms, and depth within small compositions.
Krause’s previous body of work Grace and Nepenthe experimented with color palettes that were sometimes challenging, with their saturation of sugary colors boldly contrasting graceful lines with fantastically alive shapes and patterns. Some of these colors carry over into the new paintings; however, Krause harkens back to the Chronos Tropos series, when presenting the viewer with kaleidoscopic elements and symphonies of colors, shapes, lines and textures. The new paintings take elements from both series and evolves them into complex compositions which simultaneously explore and subvert two strains of ancient Greek philosophy, namely the Dionysian archetype and the seductive quality of abstracted beauty put forth by Plato.
In Elusinian Mysteries #4, the forms are suggestive of the moment of creation when life springs forth from a singular point of yellow light. Krause creates a psychedelic interplay between reality and fantasy with interlocking ribbons of greens, blues and black. Combining these elements in a way that is creative yet almost scientific in their inquiry, color, shape, line, texture, are structured as if you’re looking at subatomic particles and how they move in space. Reminding us of the story of Demeter and Persephone and the belief that as above, so below.
Five small panels Elusinian Series SF #1-5 are undoubtedly my favorite paintings in the exhibition. Mediterranean colors of persimmon, cornflower blue, and celadon permeate the the impeccable surfaces of the panels: highly glossy, with inked out forms of lyrically composed rings, shapes, and fields. Distressed, hints of oxidized copper, spots and rivets, dark dusty browns come together with mixings of blues, reds, and whites creating orgiastic and soulful forms possessing the onlooker with their spellbinding depth. Krause’s work necessitates meditation as you are guided through layers that at once swirl toward you while simultaneously fly away from you. The intimacy builds as one studies to see how the artist works through his creative process. Here, Krause breaks free of the strictures of his academic thoughts and wholly embraces the “rights of initiation.” They are perfect and as a series synchronize beautifully when embraced as a singular united entity.
The enticing, almost sexy, suggestions of play and danger combined with the fluidity of movement pose a wide range of possibilities. More play than danger, the artwork from this exhibition is intriguing and thought provoking, SLIDING from one direction to another and filling us with the artistic inclinations of creative minds.