M O N U M E N T S   A N D   F R A G M E N T S
Installation by Michiko Itatani and Pavel Kraus

Oakton Community College * William A. Koehnline Gallery
September - October 2004
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Michiko Itatani and Pavel Kraus represent two different sensibilities fostered by a shared experience at the eclectically nurturing Art Institute of Chicago. Both artists exhibit characteristics inherent to their respective cultural heritages; Itatani, a spiritual connection to nature and an ephemeral universal order, and Kraus, a brooding mysticism which is fatalistic in its yearning for the physical to achieve the ethereal. These seemingly oppositional positions could be viewed as commentary on the nature/culture nexus, yet both contain notions of the possibility of transcendence. Both artists, in their mature work, are concerned with a sense of the spirituality metaphysical; ways of thinking about ones response to being-in-the-world, and ones perception of such experience.

Ms. Itatani produces works which allude to conceptually oblique references to nature, or a natural order, but this is a "nature" existing only in an abstracted possible-world of thought experiments or science fiction. Her theme could be the conflict between the disciplines of scientific investigation and intangible notions of the sublime. The works are, in a sense meta-paintings, in that they are not examples of a Formalist system of dialectic critique, but an intuitive pursuit for identity whose logic would appear to be contrary to any notion of systematic rationality. Itatani holds out for irrational optimism in the threat of impending chaos by counterbalancing the forces of disorder with an increasingly fragile sense of the possibility of harmony.

Mr. Kraus produces objects which suggest a kind of post-modern archaeology. His works convey an ambivalence toward their own convictions of presentational significance, evincing both Formalist strategies as well as expressive indeterminacy. Arte Poveras' tangible theatricality and impoverished materials fuse to produce hybrid objects whose objecthood embodies both formal clarity and metaphysical allusion with equal claims on content. Although such a duality could be construed as disingenuous, as no ironicizing cues are present, this either/or proposition seems precisely the location of Kraus' intent, as the objects are precariously balanced between psycholozized narrative and an antithetical reductivist factuality.

Ms. Itatani and Mr. Kraus produce works which have no apparent visual connection, yet both suggest in their work the counteracting of a fatalist dystopia with a humanist, perseverant faith.

Joseph Karoly