Booth Gallery is pleased to present May You Live In Interesting Times, an exhibition of drawings by Maria Kreyn. In these dynamic compositions, Kreyn uses graphite and charcoal to depict scenes of humanity that convey both emotional depth and intimacy. The exhibition takes its name from a purported Chinese curse, and while the works examine darkness, they do not dwell in the negative. Her expressive use of light and shadow describe of the passage of time, and repeatedly touch on the commonalities of the great themes the human condition.
Kreyn’s imagery often mines traditional western art historical iconography, as well as industrial and wartime photography. Her compositions are montages that seem to celebrate contradiction and the unpredictable nature of the future.
The cumulative effect is that of a recording of history, a documentary, personal or otherwise, depicted in a non-linear, existentialist manner. In Hands, a drawing that depicts a set of Dürer-like hands covered with pigment, the use of charcoal itself becomes of a metaphor for the very act of creation. i.e. The work of being an artist is sullying in and of itself, and getting dirty is vital to the creative process. In this image, charcoal dust seems to be a metaphor for both drawing and for quite viscerally being the very stuff of life.
In Pilgrims, she depicts three reclining figures in foreshortened views that recall Mantegna’s Lamentation of Christ. Their lower legs each give off cast shadows that seem to depict perspective on a consistent ground plane where the three figures lie exhausted, resting, recuperating. Our eye level as a viewer is on the same ground plane. The result is that the scene becomes a commonality. Their journey is ours; too, Kreyn seems to say.
Nautical themes are common in Kreyn’s work and the piece Elections, What Goes Up seems to evoke The Odyssey and its famous captain and charismatic leader Ulysses. But in Kreyn’s more Expressionist image, the narrative is more contemporary (20th century uniforms) and secular. The central figure, to which all hands are reaching up to from the lower deck, has no supernatural powers to save the day, no Athena to bail him out of trouble or shore up his character flaws. He is a leader who is joined in suffering with his fellow sailors, in their moment of confusion and despair as they face the storm together.