Wk. 11 – Artist Conversation – Kyle Kruse 


Artist: Kyle Kruse

Exhibition: Janus Maxim

Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Marilyn Werby Gallery

Media: Painting, sculpture, video, woodblock carving

Website: kylekruseart.com

Instagram: @kyle.kruse


Currently in his last semester at CSULB, Kyle Kruse is a part of the print making BFA program. At 23-years-old, Kruse says that he has moved a lot throughout his life. Long Beach has become the only place where he has resided in for more than a year. Kyle would like to move to New York or to the United Kingdom after graduation, continuing his nomadic pattern. Kyle enjoys filming and meditating when hiking and rocking climbing.


Upon walking into the darkly lit room, there are two areas that draw in the eyes. On the left of the room are three vulture-shaped masks that look like they were pulled out of a Mad Max film placed on fur covered stands, each with a woodblock carving on a shield above on the wall behind them that also displays a similarly creepy and roughly lined creature. These objects are lit by a very dim yellow that allows for these stands to be about the only thing exposed to light in the room. On the right side of the room are three screens portraying hellish images of a man in a mask through a mountainous area, two men eating some kind of meat in a room that had been given a makeover by flames, and a woman climbing rocks. These three videos were being projected on small screens that were providing the only visible light on the right side of the room. Laid on the floor between the two sides was lots of sediment. The floor had sand and chunks of rock scattered throughout it, creating a grating crunch as one tried to walk around the room.


In the artist’s statement, it is explained that the pieces that make up the exhibit are dissecting and reconfiguring the Greco-Roman teaching myths of Prometheus, Janus, and Sisyphus. Prometheus is “forever chained in a cycle of consumption for providing humanity with fire.” This is represented by the video of the two men eating the meat in the fiery room, where Prometheus would be one of the two men eating; the other would presumably be a human he gifted fire to. Sisyphus is in a constant state of climbing throughout the hills as punishment for trying to break his society’s “social contracts” and trying to cheat death. This one is represented by the masked man roaming endlessly throughout the hills. Janus is “the god of beginnings, endings, gateways and transitions.” Janus represents the “center, transition, and the opposites at each end.” The image of the women climbing rocks can represent the transitions that Janus makes, trying to get from beginnings to ends. This exhibit explores what it may mean to obscure or eliminate the human part of our minds that has fallibility in interpretation.


Upon walking into this exhibit, I felt as if I had walked through a portal to a dimension that was meant to represent some kind of hell. As a fan of horror, this exhibit immediately captivated me. Not knowing what was going on, and trying to decode it, made walking through the exhibit a great experience. Reading about the three mythological figures helped break through my confusion and come to some understanding. For me, the exhibit was meant to evoke a feeling of lonely suffering. The first thing I felt upon entering was a feeling of lost confusion where I would have to keep roaming and observing to figure out what the things around me were, making me feel lost in a constant state of repetition like how the mythological figures must have felt.


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