Frequently labeled morbid, macabre or melancholic, Anders KrisaÌr’s sculptures perturb and provoke in their equivocal evocation of the physical and psychic boundaries that both define humans and separate us from one another. The severed heads, detached extremities, limbless torsos, bisected bodies, and garments imbued with corporeal presences are personal musings on that universal query: “Who am I?”
As Freud argued, an individual’s identity emanates from and is entangled with those of his or her family. Stockholm-based KrisaÌr (b. 1973), who constructs his creations using complex casting techniques often of his own invention, treats kinship as a steadfast bulwark in his work. The four pieces in his recent solo show “Spacings” were no exception. Janus (2012) features a polyester-resin imprint, painted in light flesh tones, of the expressionless, closed-eyed face of his wife’s adolescent nephew. Suspended in a nearly 5-foot-tall fiberboard box with a rectangu- lar opening and pale skin-colored interior walls, the lifelike cast resembled a death mask seen from its underside. Peering through the aperture, the viewer aligned his or her visage with that of the teen, evoking the notion of Janus, the two-faced Roman god of beginnings or transitions and, thus, of time itself. While Janus instantiated the dualities of inside/outside, life/death, self/other, it also suggested the Janus-like status of adolescence, that fleeting stage between infancy and adulthood.
Whereas Janus was conceived around a void, its pendant, an untitled work from 2011-12, took the materiality of the body as its subject. With polyester resin and polyurethane, KrisaÌr produced a life-size, full-body cast of the same boy, slicing it down the middle with surgical precision. (In the process, the youth’s sex disappeared.) After painting the surface to approximate the subject’s skin, the artist reversed the two halves and seated them side by side with hands clasped, like clones. The sculpture’s disquieting realism echoes the work of Ron Mueck, albeit without the minute surface detail. Splitting, mirroring and twinning are frequent themes in psychoanalysis. This piece literalizes the often-violent mental fractures that individuals can endure, a reality that haunts the artist, whose father is schizophrenic and whose mother is bipolar.
Another untitled work (2012) consists of a unique, full- scale cast in painted polyester resin and polyurethane of the extended forearms of KrisaÌr’s mother. They are shrouded in red sweater sleeves and mounted on the wall. With downturned clenched fists, these appendages display uncanny verisimilitude, as if amputated from a corpse in rigor mortis, aÌ? la Robert Gober. Similarly, in Ms. Universe (2012), KrisaÌr had a local tailor fashion a gray woolen suit for his wife, which he then treated with transparent polyester resin to maintain her shape, draping the form in additional clothing, with her undergarments as the exterior layer. The inert shell lay cadaverlike on the floor, its garb (a kind of metaphoric skin) the unique clue to the identity of the absent body.
Offering few categorical answers to the primeval, existen- tial questions that underlie individual and collective human life, KrisaÌr nonetheless convincingly demonstrated their enduring relevance to artistic expression.
Photo: Anders KrisaÌr: Untitled, 2011-12, acrylic paint, polyes- ter resin and mixed mediums, 43 1/8 by 15 1/2 by 281⁄2 inches; at Nordin.