The Proposition Gallery 1/22/11—3/13/11 2 Extra Place, New York, NY 10003
Black and white marble with carnelian, lapis lazuli, tiger eye, and malachite inlay: acid-washed laminated white water glass: Pietre Dure technique: 60" x 52" x 23"
Installation with two 30" offerings. Overall floor space: 96: x 144"
Archaeology/Excavation at OK Harris
OK Harris Gallery, 383 West Broadway, NYC
October 21—November 25, 2006.
Installation material: encaustic, lead on 72" x 48" x 3" on wooden panels, marble
PAVEL KRAUS - Artist Statement
Archaeology / Excavation
Ostensively paintings, the “Archaeology/Excavation” are crafted of tinted beeswax over wooden support. The qualities of the wax, applied in layers, convey a palpable physical presence. Areas are then carved, or ‘excavated’ out of the surface treatment to reveal the works ‘history’ of production. The works tend to shift between Minimalism’s rhetorical factuality and narrative metaphors of inference. Testing the limits of these metaphors places production of content clearly on the viewers’ capacity for examining the nature of their own species of belief. Memory becomes a type of interiorized excavation, a mix of contrasting metaphors, which pit a sense of history as an ordered set of facts with a more elusive and subjective sense of our own experience; chaotic and historically unconscious. Selective evaluation of this data does not alter history, but it does inform our motives for significance of objects and practices. Where minimalism's’ object hood approaches the tautological, the post-minimal alludes to an uneasy subjectivity, one which unavoidably informs its expressive make-up, if not its subject.
Aspects of the devotional extend easily into the realm of cultural activity and artifactation. Both court notions of transcendence, as well as a transubstantive quality regarding mere objects tipping miraculously ‘aesthetic’ on the fulcrum of belief. These objects are not specific semiotic propositions, in that they indicate some hidden sign-system, which contains a coded content. Every artifact begs interpretation of some kind, but these objects resist interpretation even though they are obviously ‘made’ and exist as forms just on the edge of recognizability. This does not mean there is a lack of reference, only that such overt or subconscious meaning is inevitably over written and canceled by subsequent interpretations, which are beyond the control of the objects or the artist. Without overt illustrative content to provide literary content, the works can only offer their material presence.
Excavation often produces confusion as to what might be artifacts or significant information and what is natural or accidental material. One must already have some structure or pre-disposition for analyzing what one finds, a means of determining the raw from the processed. This projection of a nature/culture metaphor imbues objects with a narrative component as well as a purely literal physicality. The location of specific meaning is often fugitive, and itself open to interpretation and re-interpretation. The process goes back and forth. The significant and the insignificant often are indistinguishable.
The works rely on a dual, contradictory essence; they allude to a ritualized context, but no particular myth. In the same way they refer to specific types of objects without being those objects. As formally reductive works they suggest, but never confirm their metaphoric associations. They hover between an identity of objects of industrial production and the elevated status given to works, which display artistic uniqueness. Such indeterminacy intentionally muddies, rather than clarifies their quantitative meaning. Such decidedly ‘hot’ theatrical, narrative allusions contrast with the ‘cool’ of the reductive vehicle. The result is these primary structures in emotive skins.
Dimension: Monument - 1 600 x 800 x 300 cm. Offerings range in size from 13 x 48 x 15 cm to 32 x 120 x 35 cm.
Sound environment, entitled "Zonule Glaes II" by composer Dennis Bathory-Kitsz
Remains II - 1997 Essay by Joseph Karoly
In his two related series of works, "Hearts and Minds" and "Remains of the Past/Remains of the Future", Pavel Kraus states that the brain is the most erogenous "zone". As a reified, it is the virtual locus for erotic propositions. These propositions encompass the notions of arousal and perversity, seduction and abandonment. The heart provides a rich history of symbolic inscription, as the metaphorical organ of concupiscence for person or place, the seat of emotional and spiritual presence. The mind acts as a filter or ordering instrument for this raw, emotive plasma. The mind imposes a matrix for psychological resonance.
For Kraus, these resonance include the use of materials which hint, strongly at a corporeal awareness of the body both haptic and tactile, as well as a psychological ambiguity of temporal displacement the conjure, whiffs of nostalgia for memory that is both "pre" and "post" industrially apocalyptic. Certain aspects of Kraus' work hints at the libidinous "Prague-of-the-Mind", where sex and death form parenthetical poles which are all activity shuttles between. Kraus espouses an aesthetic of desire, both physical and spiritual. Desire is a verb, requiring a mental transaction between the one who longs and the object of that longing. The purest longing is in one's capacity to desire, not necessarily in its attainment. To solve the mystery of Kraus' objects would be to return them to the realm of mere things, to deconsecrate them, rob them of their associative powers. Like a pornographic image or text, the works are aimed at the individual viewer, couched in a private arrangement of exchange, designed for their eyes alone. This, of course, is a fictional exchange, since the means are open to all, only the interpretation seduces privately. In a decidedly "Sadeian" proposition, whatever pleasure the viewer derives from engagement with the works, Kraus' personal capacity for amusement is the final arbiter of determining the parameters between recognition and mystery, subservience and mastery.
Specific reference is dissolved in the range of possible meanings in favor of a Surrealist gambit of uncanny juxtapositions and visual non-sequiturs. This ambiguity places the work at a crossroads of aesthetic exchange. It begs an ironic reading between familiarity and our inability to locate them precisely in our catalog of symbolic referents and meanings. These objects refer, but attempts to use them as a type of shibboleth in an ordering system are thwarted. They are only metaphors used to describe other metaphors, sign posts with multiple arrows pointing in many directions, each path revealing a set of different possibilities. The works' power is in the lure of any mystery that tease and provokes, promising to reveal in direct proportion to one's commitment to seduction.