Installation view of “Christina Kruse: Base and Balance,” 2019. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle, Courtesy Helwaser Gallery

Christina Kruse on “Base and Balance”

New York-based Christina Kruse’s newest exhibition, “Base and Balance,” is on view at Helwaser Gallery through Thursday, July 25. Below, the artist discusses works from the show and her evolving sculptural practice.

Installation view of “Christina Kruse: Base and Balance,” 2019. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle, Courtesy Helwaser Gallery

I’ve done photography, drawings and collages for a long time, and some video work too. Where I initially made collages out of photography and drawings in my sketchbooks, I eventually started to build my own physical sets. I rented studios for years, and just tested. One stretch of time—I think three years—I just tested anything I could get my hands on, whether it was plaster or wax or stitching or fabrics.

15 years ago, I started a project where I collected the memories of people that were mentally very fit after the age of 85. I was curious what their most memorable times of their lives were, and translated those memories into a physical form, visualizing them into a long carpet-like tapestry resembling the printed results of a heart monitor. I color-coded the patterns and stitched them into the fabric, but then thought, no, they’re too flat. So, I thought: “I will build a head, cover it in burlap, and stitch those same patterns onto it.” I didn’t quite realize at the time that these were my first steps into the direction of sculpture.

4/1, 2017.
Wood, acrylic paint, lacquer, brass, and wax, 18.5 x 7 x 7.5 in.

I still love this piece—it’s called 4/1. And I really like it because it’s so very different from each side, and it always reminds me of someone where you never know who you’re dealing with. And I kind of love that, as much as it can drive someone crazy; I love the beauty of that unpredictability.

Installation view of “Christina Kruse: Base and Balance,” 2019. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle, Courtesy Helwaser Gallery

The drawings to me represent the issues in each sculpture that I need to contain. Some of them are super colorful, for starters, and a little mad—everything flows, everything is all over the place. And those are the matters that needs to be contained and organized in order to create an upright, standing, solid structure. They’re basically the issues to fix.

Settled, 2019.
Bronze, wood, and ink, 59 x 18 x 23 in.

I really like the bronze piece because it literally is so settled. I use bronze when there is a need for a permanent or constant—resembling a core or a spine, you could almost say. The other ones are likely to change, because as wood, they will always adapt to their environment.

Installation view of “Christina Kruse: Base and Balance,” 2019. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle, Courtesy Helwaser Gallery

I always start with an x and y axis. Just in terms of distribution of weight and volume, it’s comforting to a coordinate system—where they meet, x and y, would be somewhat like the middle or the center of the human body. A) I can relate to it because I have a body, and b) because it’s not purely geometrical, the forms do get altered or modification happens, entering a more organic state as the result of exterior challenges. The geometrics have to shift—and to remain in somewhat of an equal balance, it’s very important to have the x and y axis in order to remain in the human coordinate system.

There’s definitely always an anthropomorphic aspect—simply because that’s something I can relate to and can clearly abstract from. I don’t need it to be specific. I want to be as minimal as possible, just enough to create an association beyond form and its sense of balance. 

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