Week 11 Artist Conversation – Kyle Kruse

Artist: Kyle Kruse

Exhibition: Janus Maxim

Media: Film, Sculpture, Wood

Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Marilyn Werby Gallery

Website: KyleKruseArt.com

Instagram: @kyle.kruse

About the Artist

During this week’s Artist Conversation, I got to chat and listen to Kyle Kruse, an artist down at the Werby Gallery who is in his 6th and final year here at CSULB. Kyle started out as a Psychics major but ultimately decided that wasn’t for him, so now, he is in the process of obtaining his BFA in Printmaking, a major where he said he felt like he was “learning more.” He also mentioned his interest for Greek mythology and how that interest inspires a lot of his work. Kyle is also considering the idea of pursuing an MFA in Visual Anthropology sometime in the future. He talked a little bit about his hobbies, which included rock climbing, drawing and reading, which was what he was doing down at the galleries in between being interviewed.

Formal Analysis

Janus Maxim is Kyle’s fourth solo show. When I first showed up to the galleries, my friend had told me to check out the gallery “with behind the curtain.” I noticed the black curtain and decided to make my way inside. When I pushed through the curtains, I was praying it wouldn’t be some sort of haunted house inspired exhibition. It was really dark in the gallery, with some light only from the three television screens and dim lighting on upon the sculptures. I felt like my shoes were kind of slipping and scratching the ground as I walked. I looked down and noticed that there was some dirt or sand on the ground. There were three blocks on the left side of the gallery which displayed Kruse’s three animal mask sculptures. Behind these were three wooden frame carvings on the wall. I was sensing a theme here; three carvings, three sculptures, three television screens. The screens displayed a series of short films, which Kruse had directed, filmed and edited himself.

Content Analysis

Janus Maxim was inspired by the Greco-Roman teaching myths of Prometheus, Janus and Sisyphus. This is where the theme of “three” started to make a little more sense to me. Kruse discussed the myths surrounding each of the three cyclical figures and their cycles of human progress. Kruse wants the viewer to stand in “the Void” where they can exist in multiple points and states throughout, which are time, life, or the absence of either. Janus Maxim explores that void. Prometheus was represented by the block on the left, where he provided humanity with fire. Sisyphus was represented by the block on the right, where he tried to cheat death and break society’s social contracts. And finally, Janus was represented by the block in the middle, where he is the god of beginnings, endings, gateways and transitions. The viewers, here, act as onlookers, where they are able to view the future, the past and what lives in between.

Synthesis / My Experience

I have to say that I really enjoyed Kruse’s exhibition this week, even though I initially thought I was entering some kind of dark, creepy haunted house as I passed through that black curtain. This exhibition was one of the most intriguing ones that I have been in this semester. Kruse was also just an all-around interesting person to talk to outside the gallery. He has a lot to say, but not too much to say, if that makes sense. I just felt like he was very passionate and knew a lot about what he was saying and doing with his work. I really felt like Kruse’s exhibition had a balanced quality to it, where Prometheus and Sisyphus were on two different sides, but Janus in the middle balancing everything. Kruse’s video was actually one of my favorite elements of this exhibit, and I really think he should consider dabbling in film, as well.

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