Sydney Croskery at Craig Krull

Sydney Croskery, Forever and Never, Very Important Very Unimportant, Photo Courtesy of Craig Krull Gallery

Very Important Exhibition

Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica
Through July 16, 2022

Written by Genie Davis
Artist Sydney Croskery’s Very Important Very Unimportant, recently closed at Bergamot Station’s Craig Krull Gallery, is a luscious exhibition now currently viewable online.

Palpably textural, it’s not so much the kind of texture you wish you could touch as it is a dimensional series of elements that vibrate with energy and depth. This series of abstract works are created to explore both perception and contradiction, and within their multiple layers the visuals lead viewers through complex hills, valleys, and views straight from the soul.

Take “Critical is Critical,” in which a dark blue and grey-black series of shapes, roughly similar to a tousled bed, lead to a luminous white. It’s as if, after a restless night, the sun is rising through a shrouded window. It is a truly dark night, however, in the dream-like “Baseball Bat Flag Pole Bear Spray.” Here, the layers of midnight blue and black are seemingly contained in a sepulcher, containing not bodies of the dead but dream shapes.

Lighter of spirit and palette, “Limiting the Limits” is a sweep of clouds or diaphanous clusters of fabric, or curtains clumped together in wind. The pinks and blues are washed within and behind the dominant pearl color; brush strokes swirl like barely contained energy. A remarkable circuitry seems to be waiting for just such a current to activate the blue maze of “Forever and Never.”

The exhibition’s titular piece, “Very Important Very Unimportant” gives viewers an almost human shape, a genii arisen perhaps from a dense soft fog of blue-white sea foam or an illusion of rain-drenched sky. It is clearly all sea and storm in the roiling emeralds and zoisite colors of “Storm Before the Calm,” and a fertile tempest this appears to be. In “Lifers,” a tower – whether Rapunzel’s or a maximum-security prison – is partially seen through an abstract landscape or firmament and cloud. A personal favorite is “Abstraction 030,” which resembles both an underwater lost city and a community of dying coral; it could also easily be seen as a beautiful but dystopian view of our own planet. Wherever and whatever it may be, this is a work that’s enigmatic and riveting, requiring personal definition and evoking an inchoate longing to understand.

In each of Croskery’s twenty-five oil-on-linen works at the gallery, the dense, luminous quality of her color palette, as well as the strokes and lines rich enough to taste, are unequivocally masterful. So, too are the half-hidden questions she poses. The artist walks an impressively fine line between detail and large-scale gesture, creating emotional and mental mind puzzles that are as pleasurable to delve into as they may be unlikely to solve.

Along with these paintings, the artist’s themes are explored in book form, in a series of essays which serve to both supplement the works and add to their sense of timeless mystery.

Artist Max Hertz concurrently displayed nine, puzzle-like sculptural works at the gallery; basing shapes on objects of plays and learning, such as puzzles, climbing structures, and blocks. In Fitting Forms, pieces range in size as well as medium. There is the relatively small ceramic and pottery grit “Incongruity,” which could be a strange box or an upended toy wagon; at first glance it appears to be wood. The large-scale, cage-like, plywood pen of “Gabon” could be an animal hold or a field-sport goal. Painted a chromakey blue, the plywood “And Fun was Had” is all climbing structure. Playful and mind-bending, these sculptures make a terrific accompaniment to Croskery’s work.

This is intelligent, alive art, as stimulating as it is accomplished. Craig Krull Gallery’s online views are available at https://craigkrullgallery.com/Exhibition/PRCroskeryHertz.html.

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