A R C H A E O L O G Y / E X C A V A T I O N   2 0 0 3 / 0 4
 
Media: Beeswax, damar, lead on wood panels
Dimension 48" x 72" x 3"
     
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Pavel Kraus most recent installation, a continuation of his "Sex, Death, Offerings" series, the "Archaeology/Excavation", is comprised of two categories of objects.

The "Archaeology" are wall-mounted works, which refer like paintings, to their surface treatments, and "Offerings"; sculptural objects mounted on plynths. The "Offerings" seem to represent a prosaic mortification of the flesh, to the spiritual transcendence elided by the poetic aspirations of the "
Archaeology".

Both provoke uneasy distinctions between the haptic and the optic. The objects tend to shift between minimalisms rhetorical factuality, and narrative metaphors of inference. Like much of Kraus ouvre, the scale and materials employed index the body and human artifactation, referencing some ritualized or habitual use. The works embody their own opposites in that they quote both notions of the moderne and the archaic. Their forms and materials convey disparate reads of qualities which can be construed as both metaphysically loaded, and reductively cool.

Showing neither aesthetically conditioned irony nor existential pessimism regarding arts capacity to produce psychological content beyond its factuality of materials, Kraus proposes a form of dialectic regarding cultures religious analog, and religious doxology proper. The works seem to exhibit a tendency or longing for arts recovery of some type of spiritual content, felt most strongly by its very absence. Such content, however, is not located specifically in the objects, or encoded in the conventions of symbolic iconography.

It is conjured by the works emphatic objecthood countered by an immanence which reflects a material anxiety, raising issues of the potential for non-representational works to convey meaning towards narrative modes of identity. The very notion of contemporary art begging consideration as conveying some sense of a "sacred" would seem overcome with inherent contradictions. Can objects which artistically refer to modernist conventions of production, display, and the marketplace also carry, in good faith, an equal identity of spirituality without falling prey to a negatory irony, or maudlin sentimentality and pseudo-pious romanticism?

Structures either aesthetic or religious, are imbued with meaning for their respective interpreters. Both would ask their adherents to engage in contemplation toward an apotheosis, a condition where a metaphysics of the aesthetically sublime and spiritually numinous are indistinguishable.

The difference between faith and doubt is constituted by a linguistic position that describes contradictory notions of truth; one whose metaphors condition a metaphysics of the ineffable, and one which attempts to order experience through a pragmatic linguistics. Testing the verifiable limits or lack-thereof, of such mystical conditions, Kraus places production of content clearly on the viewers capacity for examining the nature of their own species of faith.

Joseph Karoly

E-mail kraustudio@gmail.com