Christina Kruse’s miniature psychological playground

Christina Kruse’s miniature psychological playground

In her show, ‘Plasterheads’ Christina Kruse invites us into an intimate world where architecture and geometry meet the depths of the human psyche

Over the last decade, artist Christina Kruse has honed a distinct visual language in which abstracted human figures collide with bold rectilinear forms.

For her latest exhibition, ‘Plasterheads’ at Helwaser Gallery, New York, Kruse’s new work is part installation, part ‘playground of the inner psyches’. Lunapark is a miniature world, where figure-like maquettes pose on, climb across and play around with architectural elements. Despite all this activity, the figures seem to barely acknowledge each other’s existence. 

Christina Kruse, Lunapark, 2021, plaster, wood, brass, metal, glass, soapstone, alabaster, paint sculpture. All images courtesy Helwaser Gallery, New York
Christina Kruse, Lunapark, 2021 (detail)

For Kruse, the structure of the installation, and its materials, are the world; the maquettes symbolise different psychological states and the endless permutations of human behaviour. The materials too are metaphors; plaster and soapstone are easily shaped, emphasising the malleability of the human condition. 

German-born, New York-based Kruse’s work spans photography, painting, and sculpture. Her earlier photographic and collage works draw on her personal biography, often deploying self-portraits layered with tape, watercolour, ink, and other media. 

Christina Kruse, Lunapark, 2021 (detail)
Christina Kruse, Lunapark, 2021

Her ongoing sculptural pieces combine bronze, marble and wood in static, geometric compositions. Although grounded in structure and equilibrium, Kruse’s sculptures draw parallels with human heads and faces. In her work, the rationality and more capricious facets of human life coexist. 

When the pandemic struck, Kruse fled New York to shelter with her family in rural Germany. Far removed from her studio resources, she began to make with what was at hand. The resulting plaster works, created in a makeshift studio, became studies for her new installation, one born out of displacement, necessity, and a return to bygone tools and techniques. 

Elsewhere, a second installation comprises four sculptures. Will o’ the wisp (2021) evokes the imagery of a still landscape made in wood, marble, plaster, and soapstone. Juxtaposed with the delicate, elongated forms found in Lunapark, these sculptures exude solidity, stability and balance through sheer volume and weight. If Lunapark is controlled chaos, Will o’ the wisp brings a new order. §

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