To enter a gallery populated with Klara Kristalova’s creatures is to enter a vaguely sinister and weirdly personal fairy tale. The hand-painted ceramic and bronze figures speak directly to the artist’s interior life. A ceramic bust of a woman besieged by moths, another of a woman with vines coming out of her eyes where tears should be, both vibrate with the clarity of a dream image you can’t forget, but whose context you can’t remember. The absurdity of the imagery is paired with simplicity in presentation; works are placed on white clothed-covered tables, plain pedestals or directly on the floor. This combination, along with the intentionally handmade quality of her sculptures, gives the work a classical presence despite its idiosyncratic nature.
For her exhibition at SITE, her first in a U.S. Museum, Kristalova will push the boundaries of her practice. One gallery will contain new works, some created especially for this exhibition, which will envelope the viewer in Kristalova’s idiosyncratic world. Anchored by a display that will present works like a whimsical cabinet of curiosities, this portion will include ceramic and mixed-media sculptures of varying sizes and scale. A second gallery will present sculptures culled from the last few years of Kristalova’s production, offering the viewer a chance to engage with a range of works. Overall the exhibition will offer a survey of approximately 45 pieces.
Kristalova is part of a generation of artists who came of age in the 80s and 90s when the cerebral, impersonal rigors of modernism were being questioned. Within this context, the emphatically handmade and figurative character of her work should be seen as a critique of modernism. Working alone in her studio in rural Sweden, Kristalova has created works that have garnered international attention. She has had one-person exhibitions at galleries in Stockholm, Paris and London, and has completed several important commissions for public sculpture in Sweden. Born in 1967, Kristalova lives and works in Norrtälje, Sweden.