L E V I T A T I O N
 
Installation at the Jay Bond Gallery, 5 Rivington Street, New York, NY.

May 12th - June 25th, 2005
Sound by Dennis Bathory-Kitsz


Art in America review - December 2005
 
     
     
click on image
Pigments on mylar, 2004 - 2005
Dimensions from 36" x 72" to 52" x 96"
 
In combination the series of works "Excavation" and "Levitation" can be read as overt architectural forms. In the former, one finds the literal weight and physical structure of geometric order in ruin. The latter poetically suggests the painted domes of cathedrals and their ethereal aspirations of the spirit freed from the earthbound. As objects of immanence and transcendence, art works convey a metaphysical process that compels the transformation of base materials toward an aesthetic sublime.
 

Pavel Kraus "Levitation"

In his work of the last several years Pavel Kraus has presented sculptural/architectonic objects at the edge of identity. These sculptural constructions referenced the body in abstract sculptural metaphors, representing the interpretive limits of physicality. His recent return to the more graphic medium of painting elides that body’s projected mystical aspirations through a questioning of the parameters of allusory embodiment. Although non-iconic or illustrative, Kraus intends his materials to engage metaphorically rather than to be merely exemplary of process.

Where the sculptural objects palpable surface topographies reference morphology, the intangible and luminous delicacy of the “Levitation” works, as ‘spirit traps’, picture the ephemeral: graphically, temporally fixed. More evidentiary trace than image, discrepancy between surface and depth register as inherent in the qualities of the materials’ almost lapidary opalescence. In a type of post-modern ‘glasmalerisch’ Kraus benignly facilitates a spread of liquids which coalesce organically into a ‘gestural’ iteration. A quality of weightless, timeless ‘being’ is sought in the overt optical sensuousness of the saturated colors given form on the contoured surfaces of planar skins; as if the color itself produced its structural appearance. The physical materiality of the medium is not obscured, yet it conveys more mystery than it transparently reveals, suspended between allusion and the merely decorative, metaphor and presence.

When Kraus interjects the unlikely possibility of ‘faith’ into a reading of his sculpture or painting he is not alluding to issues pertaining to a critique of the exhaustion of the mediums’ expressive viability or literal use in illustrating social identity. He is problematically and intentionally invoking a self-awareness and desire for the numinous.

Kraus intends this work to represent and provoke a musing on his own (and our collective) mortality, and the role of an ineffable creator. This reverie is mediated by the artistic object, the making if which subjectifies the creative process as experience for the maker, but the object then assumes an autonomous identity as artifact. It’s physical object hood is measured against a conceptual blue-print of its ideal form. Platonic metaphysics and Christian dogma would seem to elicit both a measured contemplation and a more romantically mythic response in the viewer. Reception of a sense of spiritual conviction or aesthetically expressive content must ultimately be triggered by the object itself as both ‘topos’ and ‘telos’, a location of indeterminacy between physical presence and conceptual transparency. While the production of a work could be constructed as redemptive, salvation remains tied to the conceptual rather than the physical.

If metaphor is an agent for a potentiality of recovery of meaning, in Baudrillardian terms, that distinction be made between dissimulation and simulation. A question of presence or absence is constructed, a relational truth-table of sorts, that proposes a psychological semiotics of the real and the imagined. Hermeneutic analysis spins in linguistic slippage where image/object repels (con)-textual content. As all remarks of faith demarcate themselves simultaneously unquestionable and unverifiable, veracity becomes subservient to pragmatics. Any sense of the numinous harbors itself in impenetrable subjectivity. In questions of artistic object hood facts (presence) of material form conflate with interpretive models of narrative coding. The prosaic vies with romanticized poesis creating an anagogic frisson between the immanent and the transcendent. Objects mediate the world and our experience of it. How we use interpretive data resides in our subjective capacity for credulity and forms the limits of faith.

Joseph Karoly