Featured Review: Solberg/Cruzen

Featured Review: Solberg/Cruzen Recent Washington University MFA grads Dan Solberg and Jake Cruzen inaugurate their new gallery space with new work that strives to deny all traditional forms of aesthetic gratification. Cruzen's bleach-on-raw-linen triptychs and diptychs erase what would have been the picture plane for mimetic rendering, forcing the viewer to focus on the ravaged materiality of the non-paintings and their eroded and stained surfaces. Solberg's large-format digital photos position you as a kind of fastidious voyeur of banality: a red-painted French door looks out onto porch-lit potted ferns, the pictures cut out at the edges to resemble the lunette shape of binocular lenses. The repeated imagery of both artists' work — for all of its denial of literal content, figure, depth of field and aesthetic pleasure — evokes a kind of narrative (for Solberg, suburban entrapment; for Cruzen, economy and expressionism) but also accretes to a material and aesthetic lushness of its own. The linen fibers become tactile, the bleach stains abstract and emotive; and the windows onto nothingness, repetitively, read almost like a Robbe-Grillet novel, as if they're the site of a nearly imperceptible crime. Through March 20 at Craig Elmer Modern, 3194 South Grand Boulevard; 314-517-6150 or 636-368-7069. Hours: noon-4 Sat. and by appointment.

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