James Harris Gallery is pleased to announce our fifth solo exhibition titled 5 Paintings by Los Angeles artist, Alexander Kroll. These new pieces add to a rich body of work that continues to investigate the unending possibilities for abstraction in distinct ways. In these new works, Kroll acts as translator, using decisive brushwork, strong color and line to bring the cerebral into the physical world. This so-called translation is not a single or swift action, but a constant negotiation between artist and canvas. The work we see is the articulation of an active psyche.
Kroll’s paintings are indebted to the canon of midcentury Abstract Expressionists—not only Philip Guston, but also Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, and Joan Mitchell—yet his persistent exploration of layering, conflating and confusing the relationship between foreground and background, creates a visual hybridity that locates the works in the present day. As the viewer, we too are called on to locate our own consciousness within the work. Whether through emotion or a memory brought to the surface, Kroll’s compositions act to ignite each viewer’s unique interpretation of the psychology of abstract space. The artist often activates the surface with line drawn from the brush or applied directly from the tube. These surface marks interrupt a patchwork of color uniting fore and middle ground in a dance. Thus, the viewer visually shuffles through the layers while remaining continuously in dialogue with its optical structure.
At first glance, Kroll’s paintings appear linguistically distinct, however, they share undeniable commonality. In all of the works, Kroll expertly balances solid swathes of color, often shifting gradually in gradient or tone, with dynamic strokes that creates staccato like rhythm. These activating strokes create definition and texture. The optical dialect found in these works generates freedom of interpretation and movement.
Kroll also demonstrates startling dexterity on each individual canvas. The smallest painting, “Untitled Portrait of My Mother,” for example, makes use of striking black, green, and blue lines to direct the viewer around the work before confronting the gaze of haunting eyes drawn in graphite located in the center of the composition. The paint never appears stagnant or solid but, rather, swirls around the drawing of a bust, allowing the viewer only a peak of what lies beneath.
If a theme runs through these highly individualized works, it is one of an intellect astir. Just as the eyes rise to meet the viewer’s gaze in, ““Untitled Portrait of My Mother,” confronting the relationship between viewer, object and artist. Kroll has once again managed to produce anomalous artifice. Navigating this pictorial field takes both deftness and mental dexterity showing that Kroll demands as much from his viewer as from himself.