Artist: Kyle Kruse
Exhibition: Janus Maxim
Gallery: Marilyn Werby Gallery
Media: Video, sculpture, woodblock carvings
This past week, I had the opportunity to visit Kyle Kruse’s “Janus Maxim” exhibition in the Marilyn Werby Gallery. Kruse is a 23 year old undergrad majoring in Printmaking. He plans on getting a BFA, as this is his last semester at Cal State Long Beach. During his free time, Kruse says he likes to go rock climbing and hiking. While doing these activities, Kyle also likes to take his camera and film. He also admits that he does a lot of thinking and meditating while rock climbing/hiking. This also gives him time to think about his future projects.
While at the SOA galleries, nothing grabbed my attention until I saw one gallery’s entry was covered with a black curtain. I was intrigued to find out what hid behind it, so I decided to check it out. Immediately, I realized how creepy everything inside the gallery was. I was in awe of the entire gallery. Awe, as in a mix of fear and wonder. I had never experienced this kind of reaction to an artist’s exhibition. Inside, there were three large screen televisions which all showed three different films. One television played two humans, in a very dark setting, eating what looked like to be meat. Another screen depicted a man with a mask on wandering through what seemed like the middle of nowhere. The final screen switched from a woman climbing rocks, and other settings. To the other side, there were three large woodblock carvings. These carvings depicted dark masked figures. On three stands, there were also three different masks. Besides the videos and sculptures, the floor was also covered in what seemed like fine sediment and small rocks. Suspenseful music also played in the background to give an eerie effect.
Like stated before, Kruse’s gallery gave a creepy sensation to it. And rightfully so, as that was what his intent was for his audience. Kyle explains that he wants to effect his audience on a deeper level, and in all senses. This exhibition, as explained by Kyle, “dissects and reconfigures the Greco-Roman teaching myths of Prometheus, Janus and Sisyphus.” Prometheus was, in Greek mythology, the creator of mankind, while Sisyphus was a sinner condemned in Tartarus to an eternity of rolling a boulder uphill then watching it roll back down again. Janus was, in Roman religion, the God of Beginnings, Gates, Transition and Endings, among other things. These figures were all incorporated into his exhibition. Kruse explains that with this exhibition he is questioning human condition, as in what are we, who are we and where are we? This is because Kyle is curious about consciousness and memory, cheating death and the void.
As said before, Kyle’s main objective was to have a deeper effect on his audience. With me, this seemed to be proven true. I was taken back by how dark the concept of this exhibition was. To be honest, I was scared looking at the third mask in the picture shown above. It seems like something you would see in your worst nightmares. All in all, I applaud Kyle Kruse’s exhibition and I wish him the best of luck in future shows.