Whitehot Magazine

Bryce Kroll Hard Copy at Lubov Gallery

Installation view, Bryce Kroll at Lubov Gallery 

By JONATHAN GOODMAN April 23, 2024 

Bryce Kroll’s show at the Lubov Gallery, located in the heart of Chinatown, wonderfully expressed, as an American idiom, the raw materials and, by implication, the rejection of materialism so evident in Arte Povera. Kroll, in his mid-thirties, has come up with a show created entirely from found materials: plastic; a used government printer; newspaper pages. The luminous colors covering canvas in the wall relief works are due to industrial printing inks. Kroll captures the downtown spirit remarkably well. The show, perhaps slightly sparse in the number of its objects, continues an essentially Rauschenberg-like  refusal of elegance, but we are now so thoroughly accustomed to such a refusal, we can see Kroll’s output as a statement of understated beauty. 

Kroll’s strikingly ad hoc three-dimensional work, hanging from the ceiling, is completely constructed from thrown-away parts: styrene, oil soluble colorants, aluminum, polyurethane foam. The shape of the hanging-sculpture is based upon three levels of curved forms, attached to each other by two narrow poles of steel. The work hangs from the ceiling and conspicuously announces its industrial ties. It is so improvised a work, it is hard to see it as more than ephemeral. But perhaps that is Kroll’s point; an informal work of art doesn’t necessarily promise a short life in art.

Installation view, Bryce Kroll at Lubov Gallery

The striking sculpture, tilled Trace Parafax Derivative UF885 (2023), is also a piece hung from the ceiling, although the end of the work comes close to the floor.  Its outermost layer is clear plastic, so that we can see the components within. The elements include a black mass that takes up the top third of the columnar sculpture. Beginning at the top of the black mass is a bright green fabric traveling down and dropping a couple of inches below the clear plastic. At the lower end, we see a nylon rope curving this way and that, stationed right next to the green cloth.

Installation view, Bryce Kroll at Lubov Gallery

This work, like most of the pieces in the show, is deliberately unassuming. But that does not matter because  it is a tacit statement in opposition to the materialist imagination. One can hardly say that the art is openly political, but it does exist beyond the pale. Kroll is asking that we give up our assumptions regarding what is beautiful and what is not. While we cannot determine the social implications of the work, we can see Kroll’s pieces, in their navigation of a broken terrain, as an assertion of poverty and its (sometime) virtue. That does not mean the artist is incapable of beauty; his wall of low relief art, tuned with luminous inks, are statements of genuine elegance.

Installation view, Bryce Kroll at Lubov Gallery

The wall installation, consisting of six 24 by 48 canvases with images on them printed with industrial inks, is an entirely successful transformation of mechanical imagery. The colors, which include blue, green, and gray, are gorgeous. 77I Inches per Minute (2023) looks like a piecing together of photocopied images of the government printer Kroll purchased online; the brilliant, transparent blue ink gives the image the quality of a print more than a painting–the effect here reminds us of Rauschenberg’s art, no matter whether it is conscious. Kroll’s interest in the industrial discards of current life is genuine, but that doesn’t mean awkwardness must turn away from refinement. Kroll has made the merger take place, and it is a true transformation. WM

Jonathan Goodman

Jonathan Goodman is a writer in New York who has written for Artcritical, Artery and the Brooklyn Rail among other publications. 


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