Artist: Kyle Kruse
Exhibition: Janus Maxim
Media: Mixed Media, Textiles, Wood, Live Action
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Werby Gallery
Born in Northern California, Kruse hasn’t lived in one city for more than a year until Long Beach. Now, he’s a senior here at CSULB, finishing his last semester in the School of Arts printmaking program.
After graduation, an option for him is to go to the UK to pursue a general MFA. However, he keeps other possibilities in mind.
The exhibit contains a variety of artistic mediums; three different ways Kruse’s idea is presented. The gallery is dark, with dirt covering the floor, and several dim lights shining on the pieces. One wall is decorated by a set of three distinct woodblock carvings and in front of each carving is a textile sculpture of masks. On the opposite wall are three TVs playing three different short films. The woodblock carvings are two-dimensional versions of the mask sculptures. The dark-colored masks portray heads of unidentifiable creatures seen in the films.
Greco-Roman mythical beings Prometheus, Janus and Sisyphus are the subjects of Kruse’s solo exhibition. Here, they represent cycles of human progress. Prometheus stole fire and supplied it to humankind, and was punished by being chained to a rock in the Caucasus Mountains. There, he suffers eternally at the hands of an eagle that tears at his liver everyday, but eventually, be healed by his immortality every night. Janus is the god of beginnings, endings, gates, passages, doorways, transitions and time. Lastly, Sisyphus, who was punished for his pride and for cheating death by being forced to eternally push a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down towards him.
Janus Maxim is about the existence of the Void between all of what Janus represents and exploring our ideas behind the Void, including what it entails. We move between various points of existence, most importantly the in-betweens. The entire exhibit stands to explore the idea of language and its obvious restrictions. It is more difficult to use language to communicate a feeling, and as a solution, Kruse recreates the feeling itself in a way that could be seen, felt and heard. His aim is to create it in a way that could be relatable to anyone, and force his audience to question those feelings in themselves.
The experience is nothing like I’ve ever had in an art gallery. Kruse’s use of multiple senses enhanced the exhibit’s purpose and expanded its audience. At first, I was very confused about the meaning behind his pieces, but after a conversation, realized that it’s about my personal reaction. It gave off a very eerie, creepy feeling that was definitely felt by other students. What I found fascinating is Kruse’s ideas of other objects of life that is usually not part of our everyday routine as human beings, yet in a way, still is. Since it is such an irregular and unusual topic and not something that can be physically seen, a majority of us are completely oblivious. He incorporates ancient myths and points out its relevance to our everyday life.