Box Cutter Sensuality: The Peeled-Off Paintings of Kris Scheifele
Kris Scheifele: Fade at Janet Kurnatowski
September 7 to October 7, 2012
205 Norman Ave, between Humboldt and Jewel
Brooklyn, (718) 383-9380
Kris Scheifele’s second solo show at Janet Kurnatowski Gallery, Fade, represents the investigative efforts of an artist in search of a personal and singular form of expression. In a continuum to her 2008-2011 Contortion series, these new works extend an intimate, methodological and obsessive relationship with acrylic,finding their locus in the materiality and literalness of paint. Reveling in the alchemy of her process, Schefele intersperses layer upon layer of viscous paint with polymer binder and then proceeds to remove the encrusted surface from its wood panel support, slicing the peeled-off rubbery skein into a flexible, hanging, knotty strap. Associations of bridles, reins and other apparatus abound – equestrian and S&M alike. But Fade is much more than an iconoclastic gesture: aesthetically intriguing and procedurally relevant, this exhibition of an artist who graduated from Pratt Institute in 2009 exudes an air of maturity, forethought and clarity that doesn’t diminish the inherently playful and effervescent nature of her project.
The front room of the Gallery is an appropriate host for Schiefele’s thirteen intimately sized paintings, all but one made in 2012, and all suspended by nails which directly puncture the skin of the acrylic slabs. Since the pieces are not supported by any type of frame or armature, Scheifele’s hanging method encourages a sense of performance — gravity, time and temperature exert their presence, exaggerating the work’s affinities to drooping fabric, the sagging body and begging the question (in demure tone) – when is a painting actually finished?
Scheifele’s brand of humor is not only visible in her installation method but palpable in regards to the placement of each work in relation to the next. In Hate Fade, 2012, one of the smallest works in the exhibit, what is left of the painting’s midnight blue, blazing orange and blood red epidermis dangles asymmetrically from the wall, tattered and riddled with holes– the center completely consumed as if by the ravages of fire or a swarm of locust. The follow-up to this act of violence is Summer Fade, 2012: a bright lemon-yellow piece, its thickly applied outer layer buzzes with almost irritating verve and then gracefully dissolves at its bottom, revealing hidden layers of oxidized green and Tiffany blue. Up close, the exposed under layers (excavated through Schiefele’s laborious use of a box-cutter) emit a blurry or pixilated softness that differentiates them from the preceding layers and adds a subdued sensuality to the work.
Antithetical tension (the grotesque versus the charming) created through placement in the case of the two works described above, is often an inherent characteristic of Schiefele’s most successful pieces. Money Fade 2012, a freshly minted glistening silver acrylic slab, and Quiet Fade 2012, a ghostly white and introspective purple piece, for instance, flaunt an individualized and peculiar brand of beauty, the type that has been tempered and humbled by the seemingly corrosive and abusive attributes of an unforgiving existence. signifying — or at least hinting at — something that exceeds painting’s formalist chastity belt.