Transcendence Thru Mind and Action | Long Island Pulse | Michael Isenbek | Tuesday, May 20, 2014


A group of nine artists transcend intended use and context to make their statements in wall hangings, sculpture and installation. “Sum of its Parts,” a mass of steel-belted radial tires manipulated by Nicole Hixon become a treatise on attraction and caution, while Michael Kukla’s honeycombs of masking tape are studies of form. But such repurposing doesn’t always have to be static. Joseph Esser’s “Kinesthetic 1.0” installation creates volumetric waveforms in repurposed monofilaments that vibrate with intensity caused by the viewer’s distance from the exhibit.

Set in Stone: DM Contemporary presents solo show by Michael Kukla | OnVerge: Alternative Art Criticism | Megan Garwood | March 28, 2011

On the surface, Michael Kukla New Works, an exhibition of recent painting, drawing and sculpture of Kukla, depicts an abstraction of natural life and death derived from Minimalistic techniques and empirical facts. Kukla renders an organic ethos from static medium by concentrating on cellular-level figuration and form; by building upon and reworking two-dimensional pieces; and by subtracting from three-dimensional façade.

Not only does New Works revive Kukla's solo career (once famed for Apple Computer's 1992 commission of Kukla's designed marble pedestals), but also the show addresses the relevance of contemporary minimalistic conceptual art in juxtaposition with more-celebrated art discourses, e.g., reappropriation, Virtual Art.

In his works on paper and painting, Kukla plays with negative and positive space by building thick layers of monochromatic, repetitive shapes, which he has borrowed from cellular structure. Heavy-handled pictorial space echoes the ethereal cycles found in biological creation. Kukla interlocks growth and decline by grippingly interweaving dark amoebic lines with similar highlights. Although his drawing and painting merely capture life, not death, because their highlights and silver hues outshine dark crosshatching and shading.

However, Kukla's astute sculpture captures decay as a fossil transforms an organism into negative space. Kukla mediates on the same motif found in his works on paper and painting while working on his three-dimensional pieces. He carves at natural medium (normally slate, marble, plywood slabs) to form a sculpture in the round as well as see-through, exposing several layers beneath the surface. In Kuro 4, Kukla has calculated a number of sculpted layers trapped by the walls of the rectangular sculpture.

Moreover, purity exudes from Kukla's marble work, in which Kukla mimics the patterns found in the stone to achieve realistic surfaces. These works hardly look touched by the hand of man, more by the hand of nature.

New Works provides the viewer with Zen-like forms that has been overly-attributed to late 20th-century minimalism. Recently, a few other galleries have invited artists, similar to Kukla, to exhibit solo shows. A number of these galleries are not located in Chelsea and branch out to neighborhoods East and North. Furthermore, artists who have contributed to the prior period of minimalism continue to pop up in Downtown galleries, such as George Quasha's performance at White Box this past February. Seemingly, young artists may consider cerebral subject matter and reconsider past medium and tools.

Brambles and Roses: the human imprint as biohazard and solution | Sofia Paper Biennial, May 2011
Thalia Vrachopaulos, Phd, associate professor, John Jay College, City University of New York

Michael Kukla's delicate networks cut into paper can be said to examine cellular generation in their net-like, expanding and withdrawing patterning. Kukla's means are highly measured as he carefully cuts out paper into fragile yet flexible mesh netting that takes on the quality of cells dividing, protozoa or other cellular life forms. His forms are flawless. As an idea, perfection promotes kitsch and acts within a cluster that when popularly applied is a dynamic of power that is ubiquitously operant and informs the idea of beauty. But, for Kukla's work we must embrace a broader definition in order to rehabilitate beauty and to divest it of its socially embedded moral implications. In other words, for such beautiful works, w need to recognize to separate taste from appreciation.