Kronschlaeger, Kiesler, and the Endless

“All ends meet in the ‘Endless’ as they meet in life. Life’s rhythms are cyclical. All ends of living meet during twenty-four hours, during a week, a lifetime. They touch one another with the kiss of time. They shake hands, stay, say goodbye, return through the same or other doors, come and go through multi-links, secretive or obvious, or through the whims of memory.”

–Frederick Kiesler

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Alois Kronschlaeger, Untitled (Basin and Range), 2013.
Photo by Marc Lins.
kiesler2
Frederick Kiesler, Endless House, 1950-60.

Alois Kronschlaeger’s studio, and home, is also the place where we meet to speak about objects and process. The space where our conversations take place is warmly lit and longer than it is wide. A wooden table extends the length of the room and recedes into the back wall, where one of his wall sculptures (a Polychromatic Structure) hangs; I find myself straining my neck to look up at it intermittently during our conversations. The discovery that I kept looking at it as if it were going to change is an organic response to the artist’s work, in which the viewer transcends the role of the spectator to become an active participant. I become convinced that my position vis-á-vis the object does not simply impact my view of it, but actually has a transformational effect on the object itself, and I long to see the work again in search for this feeling that I have presence—and influence—on something that is outside of myself.

“What do you see here?” asks Alois, holding up a small model of what will be a large-scale, site-specific private commission. Vertical rods, at first glance parallel but in actuality slightly skewed, extend from a solid wooden base. I immediately think of Jesus Rafael Soto’s Penetrables, aptly named to evoke the way they invite the viewer to enter the sculpture, to physically inhabit it. What the artist is trying to get me to see, though, is not so much the possibility of the spectator’s insertion into the space but rather her ability to intimately interact with it from the outside. Each side of each rod is painted a different color, and when she walks around the work the faintly angled lines produce something like a moiré effect—an optical illusion whereby two or more patterns of lines are superimposed, creating a semblance of movement.

The position of the spectator changes relative to the first row of lines, which in turn also changes relative to the second row, and so on, in such a way that the visual impression of the work is dependent entirely on the viewer’s vantage point. What is unique about these objects is that they lay dormant in an empty room, but they come to life only in presence of the spectator or participant. The aesthetic and conceptual drive from which they operate is precisely this summoning of the viewer—a longing for his or her undivided attention. Something happens when you are surrounded by Kronschlaeger’s sculptures that’s similar to the effect of switching off the lights and watching otherwise still forms become animated under the veil of darkness. You become the center of gravity, toggling with the potential movement latent within each work as the shifts and displacements of your body pull the strings.

Alois cites the work of Austrian artist and architect Frederick Kiesler as an inspiration for his own constructions. Sometimes the evocations are very apparent. Kiesler’s Raumstadt (City in Space), a hovering support structure built for the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in 1925, recalls the stacked and slanted grids that rose out of the ground for Kronschlaeger’s 2013 work 30° at Untitled in Miami. And Endless House, Kiesler’s famous design for a home that was never built, is dominated by the same swooping curvilinear forms that defined his Basin and Range in Tucson, Arizona. Still, the strongest point of convergence between the artists lies in their urge to introduce a human element into their work: while producing structures that are definitively architectural in their separation from the body, they are profoundly concerned with the viewer and his or her pure physical presence. Kiesler incorporates the human form by emulating it and adapting the material to its shape; Kronschlaeger does so by devising a system where the work and the viewer are mutually stimulated by nature of being in a shared space, a communicative relationship that echoes Kiesler’s provocative assertion: “…all ends of living meet.”

 

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Kronschlaeger, Kiesler, and the Endless

Valentina at the blog

There is something about writing that’s much like inhabiting a space. When I thought about what it might mean to inhabit Alois Kronschlaeger’s blog, like a newcomer who just landed in a country that is not my own, but where I can imagine the possibility of one day, in the near future, feeling at home, I struggled most with the preposition. Am I writing in Alois’s blog, for him, with him? Each option carries with it a distinct relationship to the artist and a different mode of being within the body of work, a degree of closeness and immersion. I decided that I liked the idea of at, a word that denotes a precise location and a specific time, so that as a writer I come not so much to a place—a blank page—but to a moment: the artist’s immediate present.

Alois’s preposition is on. His architectural sculptures work on the space. While scale varies, from the Wall Grid Structures that jut out just past the wall to the colossal Allotropisms, the genesis of the objects is always their ability to intervene and act upon their surroundings. This is self-evident in his site-specific works, where location (and accompanying factors, such as light) precede and determine the structure from scale model to completion, but it’s also patent in those works that were not conceived with a place in mind. The Russian constructivist Gabo distinguished what he termed the “volume of mass” from “the volume of space,” pinning one against the other: a solid cube represents the former, while a carved cube illustrates the latter—“the space in which the mass exists made visible.”  In concrete terms Gabo was defending space, reclaiming the sculptural quality of the area that is unoccupied by mass.

I can’t help but think of the swaths of aluminum mesh that sinuously interrupt the schematic structure of the grid in Alois’s works. These material interceptions rupture planes and lines, collapsing our geometric belief system and making way for randomized instances of beauty in the space: sensual shadows fall upon walls and floors, breathing new life into the surfaces; streams of light render a strip of paint suddenly transparent, revealing a concealed element. To borrow Gabo’s language, the artist carves into the space itself, and the action of carving suddenly shifts that space into our view. The forms that cut into the grids make us acutely aware of our position in space and time—one that is as transient as an optical effect.

It is curious and a little frightening to write about an artist’s work. Critics and art historians are often guilty of looking at an artwork so intently that it becomes something else entirely, like when a word loses meaning from repetition; artists are also guilty of this. I want to arrive at this project recognizing that I will be carving the space, drawing attention to the mass of what was there before, and that my words too will create haunting shadows that contract and stretch as the days elapse. But my presence as a writer also borrows from another operation at work in Alois’s sculptures: site-specificity. I recognize that I need to discover what is feasible, take measurements, make blueprints, because the subjects I will be writing about—artistic process, product, challenge, and concept—are not limitless vacuums but rather well-demarcated areas. The relationship of an artist and a writer is akin to the mutual respect and interplay between an object and space.

At is my introduction to the reader. It evokes my arrival here, now:

at present
at first glance
at full strength
at random
at intervals
at it
at once.

Valentina at the blog

Art Lima 2015

Earlier this month, I exhibited my work for the first time ever at the Art Lima fair in Peru. The fair was truly an amazing experience, and I was incredibly fortunate to be able to show with my friend, the artist Aldo Chaparro, and gallerist Damián Casado of Galería Casado Santapau. Beyond the great opportunity I had to show my work to a brand new audience, the fair also allowed me to deepen my relationships with old acquaintances, as well as make some new friends.

At Art Lima, I showed a spinning cube, two wall sculptures and several smaller cubes. Once we had arrived in Peru, Florencia and I immediately got to work constructing the cubes in Aldo’s studio. We worked non-stop up until the fair opened, making sure everything was ready.

We tried a few new things with this set of works that turned out really stunning. For example, with a few of the cubes, I chose a color selection inspired by Peruvian textiles (pictured here). At the suggestion of Damián, we also experimented with some new corner installations of the works. Not only did they look fabulous, but they also evoked Malevich’s Black Square as well as the rich historical lineage of art installed in corners (by Dan Flavin, Vladimir Tatlin, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Lynda Benglis and many more).

The reception of my art in Lima was genuinely heartfelt and overwhelmingly positive, and I cannot wait to return to Peru. As always, my beautiful wife Florencia Minniti supported me in everything, and her hard work and bright spirit contributed greatly to the success of this trip. A huge thanks also goes to Aldo and Damián for introducing me at Art Lima. Aldo is a wonderful friend, and he not only introduced me to Damián but he also gave me space in his studio to work in while I was in Peru. His studio manager Claudia Salem was also a huge help and a joy to work with. I hope you enjoy the photos of our trip and the fair.

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Art Lima 2015

Polychromatic Structures at Cristin Tierney Gallery

Tonight is the opening reception for my second solo exhibition at Cristin Tierney Gallery, entitled Polychromatic Structures. If I compare the work of my last show with Cristin, Allotropisms, with the work I’m producing now, I’m really pleased to see the different ways my sculptures have explored positive and negative space, color relationships, scale, phenomenology and the representational possibilities posed by the cube over the years.

I have been working on the sculptures in Polychromatic Structures non-stop since returning from Mexico in February with Florencia Minnitti and interns Sandra, Jaime and Young, and I couldn’t be more excited to unveil them to the public for the first time tonight. I hope to see you all at the reception this evening, 9 April, from 6-8pm. The show will also be on view during the gallery’s normal hours through 16 May. Below are a few photos from the past few months, which show the preparations for Polychromatic Structures; please enjoy!

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Polychromatic Structures at Cristin Tierney Gallery

Towers at EXPO Chicago

In addition to Grid Structure #1 at EXPO Chicago, I installed a site-specific piece in Cristin Tierney Gallery’s booth. I placed two separate works entitled Tower B/W and Tower Color perpendicular to each other on a small pedestal at the corner of the booth. The works – both 8 feet tall – played off the booth’s existing and nonexistent architecture, creating their own infrastructure. From below, the pieces worked nicely against the backdrop of the exhibition hall’s ceiling. I also enjoyed how the works interacted with the artworks hung on the walls. I found that it was an interesting dialogue between my work and Richard Galpin’s, with whom I will be showing at UNTITLED Miami this December.

Alois Kronschlaeger Tower EXPO Chicago Alois Kronschlaeger Tower EXPO ChicagoCristin Tierney Alois Kronschlaeger

Towers at EXPO Chicago

NYFA Presents Tectonics

As you may know, I have the honor of being awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Architecture/Environmental Structures/Design. Now I have the added honor of presenting my work alongside other NYFA fellows with Tectonics. The exhibition opens at the legendary Westbeth Gallery on Friday, August 1st and is on view through August 18th. I will be showing a new work created especially for this exhibition. Much like my multicolored cubes, this work engages the grid structure and extends it along one axis. I am really excited to present this new work!

NYFA Tectonics Alois Kronschlaeger

NYFA Tectonics Alois Kronschlaeger

NYFA Tectonics Alois Kronschlaeger

NYFA Presents Tectonics

The Vanguard Diaries in Installation Magazine

My dear friend and talented photographer, Rainer Hosch recently wrote a piece for Installation Magazine that features photographs of artists that he has taken over the years. I was lucky enough to be one of the artists included in the piece along with the amazing picture of me inside my 2011 site-specific installation, Allotropisms.

Here is what Rainer wrote:

This image of Alois Kronschlaeger was taken during the construction of his large-scale installation called Allotropisms and first solo exhibition at Cristin Tierney Gallery, New York. I hung out with Alois, who is a good friend of mine, while he was putting this piece together. This particular evening, the construction was finally finished and it was time pour the white colored paint over the mesh. We witnessed the magic of a long-planned project coming together, one pour at a time. Alois was in a trance, climbing and pouring and losing himself in his artwork. I was one happy man with the camera.

Rainer Hosch, Allotropisms
Allotropisms, 2011. Photo by Rainer Hosch.
The Vanguard Diaries in Installation Magazine