17.07.20 – 14.08.20
Artist Rooms is a new feature of SMAC Gallery’s exhibition programme. Created in response to art fairs and exhibitions being postponed globally as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic, Artist Rooms creates a space of experimentation and easier work flow to accommodate for these restrictions.
Wait The Line follows after the thinking that first inspired Gabrielle Kruger’s For Paint To Dry – Kruger’s inaugurating exhibition with SMAC in 2019. Upended in an imposed stasis along with the rest of the nation, Kruger sought to navigate the collective immersion in the act and fact of “waiting”, quite literally following the lead of her previous show’s title. She continues to investigate the emerging nuances and processes that define and are defined by the passing of time on her chosen medium.
Re-addressing the themes of patience, compliance, and the notion of time and the subsequent gift of life, Gabrielle adds additional perspectives that have revealed themselves through the implementation of our national lockdown. Her process was tempered by the delays that followed the lockdown, which impacted her show both physically and figuratively, as she made the most of what was available to her in her home, in pursuit of her ever-evolving vision. Choosing a more muted palette for this digital showroom, Kruger seeks to enunciate her affinity with extruding acrylics.
Kruger makes sense of the poetry and symbolism as each work reveals itself to her, and makes tangible every element of her feelings in and amongst the presence of chaos. Without access to her studio, Kruger continued to create from home. “Bringing the studio into the home environment has always been part of my upbringing. I also think my mother’s background in textile has been somewhat an unconscious source of inspiration in my work over the years, considering my use of paint as a versatile medium like fabric; weaving, layering and cutting up pieces of paint. It has also had a profound influence in my way of working; which is a focus on the materiality and process of making; in my case the process-based handling of paint, and in her case the use of raw linens and dyes.”
Sharing space with her mother in their home has resulted in an exchange of artistic influences as well. Her mother’s affinity with textiles is what sits behind Kruger’s attention to paint, to its form and potential. Gabrielle speaks to the legacy of her mother’s handiwork, by giving her paint the opportunity to be its own canvas, to be elevated by itself, and form patterns and designs that would otherwise not have existed beyond this approach. She gifts her paints form, structure and density. “These lines that I extrude and hang up to dry have become almost signature in the language of my paintings,” Kruger says, “during my masters when I first started working with acrylic paint in a sculptural way; peeling it off the plastic and working with it as a surface on its own, I realised the paint could exist as a painting without the support of a canvas.”
Wait The Line also speaks to the physical undertaking of this exhibition, which functions both digitally and in person by appointment, similarly to the manner in which For Paint To Dry does. Pouring her paints out into lines, she begins the extruding process which leads then to peeling and hanging out the individual ribbons of colour, where patience plays it’s part in preparing the materials for what comes next. The cyclic rhythm of waiting has rippled out to the far reaches; arching from the mundane, borderline administrative tasks that warrant a visit to the outside world, to the exciting endeavors of creation embodied by the space Kruger and her mother share; everything is tempered, altered and moulded by it. Nothing is untouched by the reality of this pandemic.
There is a metamorphosis here amongst the paints; of shapes, sizes, colours and textures as she rearranges them to weave, fold, layer, knot, cut, collage and pleat together. The freeing of them from the canvas bears noticeable parallels in sentiment, to our state of limbo as the world considers what is to follow. There is the sense of floating, of removing the function of form, enabling Kruger, and the audience alike, to no longer question the paint in relation to the canvas, but rather, to itself. When considering what “comes next” while we wait, should we not dismiss our immediate gravitation to considering what should come next, or what we expect to follow, in favour of ideas free of those imposed expectations? Kruger makes a point here, to challenge the audience as she did herself, to step off of the canvas and redefine a ‘painting’.
To invest a keen eye into the elements of what makes ‘art’, what builds and becomes it, like her paints, and make art from that itself, is as compelling as it is resultantly beautiful. It honours the paint while bearing homage to the canvas, tethering both still to one another, in a way that comforts the viewer into following the departure of Kruger’s keen eye.
Wait The Line reinforces the power of detail, by honouring the duty that delivers it by hand, while the execution revolutionises the process that was its preface. Creating such nuanced works in a time of such uncertainty strengthens the visual hold of the bold lines, and the designated designs and colouring. It adds to the thickened pours, and swift carvings that reveal what lies beneath the paint.
Text by Misha Krynauw