By nature we’re presented with a never-ending stream of problems and tasks to solve. Somehow, each question and hurdle we successfully manage jauntily slides into the next decision to be made. It’s an infinite chain reaction that likely keeps us sharp, and it inherently becomes intuitive over time– What do I want for breakfast? What time is it?
But some questions encountered, either by choice or fate, are much more prickly given there is no possible solution or an easy answer– Why can’t my dog live forever? Why am I not more empathetic? How can I touch the moon? Craig Kucia asks himself these impossible questions in a new series of paintings despite his understanding that these pursuits might be futile. Why? Because he is armed with the private knowledge that anything is possible with paint.
Each of Kucia’s new works is meticulously rendered with oil paint on canvas, and all of the paintings draw inspiration from chain reaction machines devised to labor in place of their maker, here to solve unsolvable riddles. The bespoke, painted, devices Craig Kucia constructs and presents for our amusement include elements ranging from gloves, cactuses, glasses, wilting flowers and Doc Marten boots. The various parts of each apparatus engage their neighbors, much like Rube Goldberg machines, creating a cumulative effect and energy suggestive that if these pulls, spins, wobbles and pops were able to actually manifest and coalesce together, we could conquer the daunting realities of life. It’s hopeful, and it is deep.
These paintings are chock-full of historical art references and humor, but the bravado of undertaking an endeavor to vanquish impossibility takes center stage and belies his own shy nature. It feels bold, and a little tongue in cheek, but also generous and hopeful for the world. Kucia’s paintings act as a balm against things in life he cannot accept.
About the artist ~ Craig Kucia (b. 1975 Cleveland, OH) currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. In 1999 he received a BFA from Cleveland Institute of Art and obtained a Post-Graduate Diploma in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Arts in 2003. He has had solo exhibitions at The Pit, L21, Maki Gallery and Taymour Grahne.
Craig Kucia: machines to solve unsolvable problems will be on view to December 9, 2023 at SHRINE, 368 Broadway, NYC.