Ansel Krut (@2000)
When looking at the images in the ‘Exemplary Tales’ exhibition I am reminded of the etchings of Paula Rego (http://www.christies.com/features/Paula-Rego-Thirty-Years-Deconstruction-5672-1.aspx ) such as ‘Little Miss Muffet’, Etching and aquatint, on wove paper, 1989 and the charcoal/pastel work of Odilon Redon such as ‘Le Prisonnier’ in charcoal.
They all hold a fantastical darkness to them – there is something horrifying and yet also beautiful and strangely familiar. They bring a sense of disquiet about them, an edge that lurks unseen.
I am unable to see any of this period of Krut’s work in person so am looking at his work online. The piece I choose to focus on is as follows (see image above):-
Field of Venus
oil on canvas
60 x 84 inches
Do I like it? No, I can barely look at it. And yet something compels me to keep going back for more. It almost sickens me. Why is that? What is it reminding me of?
Perhaps it is because it appears to be a nightmare taken form. It is the unspoken recesses of the human psyche, the fears and weaknesses from our childhood hearts carried into our waking adult lives.
The subject matter: appears to be strange animal/human contorted beings. They aren’t one or the other, limbs are missing if they are human, bodies are missing if they are animals – the characters are some kind of hybrid distortion, they make me shudder.
The colours are dark – it’s almost like I’m in an underworld, a sewer, somewhere that should remain hidden. I feel trapped and squeamish. I don’t like it at all.
So, why am I looking at these images, why am I contemplating producing work connected to the gothic or the uncanny when on the surface, I can’t take looking at this kind of work? I am excited and appalled in equal measure. I have an inner dialogue about my responsibility as an artist – whether I should be creating work to try and elevate human consciousness, or whether I should allow myself to dwell on the collective darkness of the human race.
I am thrilled by the opportunity to shine a light into dark corners, to bring narrative to some unspoken horror, to help release something hidden – but should I, dare I? Will it help people or make things worse?