A R C H A E O L O G Y / E X C A V A T I O N
Archaeology STUDIO
Installation - GALLERY
OK Harris Gallery, 383 West Broadway, NYC
October 21 - November 25, 2006
Marble offering
Marble offering
Marble offering
Marble offering  
click on image
PAVEL KRAUS - Artist Statement
Archaeology / Excavation 2003-2004

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.