LOS ANGELES — As a teenager, Peter Krasnow fled the pogroms successful Ukraine to survey coating successful America. His artwork responded to the times and his environment, from realistic depictions of his glum Jewish migrant assemblage to forlorn portraits successful a post-impressionist style. But aft Krasnow relocated to Los Angeles, his enactment transformed into bright, energetic hard-edge celebrations of life. This is the epoch celebrated successful the exhibition, Peter Krasnow: Breathing Joy and Light astatine the Skirball Cultural Center.
Krasnow moved to Atwater Village successful 1922 and rapidly embraced the psychedelic quality of the California desert. His enactment agelong predates the Memphis movement, but utilizes galore of the aforesaid colors and tones, making his creation highly connected inclination with our existent Memphis revival movement. The driving unit of Krasnow’s technicolor style, which helium practiced until his decease successful 1979, was the Holocaust. Reports of genocide drove him into despair, but alternatively than focusing connected decease and suffering, a clichéd world successful Jewish culture, Krasnow alternatively wanted to overgarment vibrant, colorful compositions. Despite his refusal to absorption connected tragedy, Krasnow inactive incorporated Jewish symbolism and mysticism into his paintings, showing that helium hadn’t waivered successful faith, but alternatively refocused the communicative done art.
If anything, Judaism is proudly disposable successful galore of his compositions. “K.-4-1976” (1976) unfurls the Hebrew letters of Psalm 19, which translates to, “Day aft time they determination distant speech; nighttime aft nighttime they uncover knowledge.” The letters drip implicit a bulbous orange, coral, and magenta inheritance — a encephalon soaking up wisdom. Yellow and lime lines scrawl down the letters, implicit the brain, and clang into the borderline of the framed canvas. They’re synapses seeking accusation from beyond the realm of the painting.
Hebrew characters are besides the salient focal constituent successful “K.-14-1975 / K.-15-1975” (1975), a vertical coating that uses its wood framework to strictly disagreement the canvas into 2 sections. Abstracted letters, which popular disconnected bright, squiggly lines, coyly spell retired Krasnow and his wife, Rose’s, Hebrew names: Pincahs and Shoshana. The characters, not rather depicted successful their accepted artifact signifier nor the handwritten Hebrew script, treble arsenic a emotion enactment successful plain sight, a concealed connection that lone the 2 could understand.
Though Jewish symbolism is simply a captious constituent successful Krasnow’s paintings, helium besides appears to see ineffable imagery from different religions and cultures successful his paintings. He sneaks successful mandalas, tribal symbols, and mythical creatures. The gridded signifier successful “K.-7-1949” (1949) evokes a agleam Malaysian songket, a cloth utilized successful royal ceremonies, with high-contrast, integrated forms cozying into their quadrants. They curl similar worms, agelong retired similar flames oregon jaggedly protrude similar crystal shards. There are 3 ample circular forms astatine the bottommost of the canvas, supplication circles that incorporate imaginary landscapes of far-off lands.
In this coating and others, similar “K.-6-1951” (1951), carnal motifs emerge. One is simply a human-like figure, a tiny idiosyncratic with arms outstretched to the heavens. Another salient carnal has a serpentine assemblage and duck-like bill. They bring to caput tricksters — the flute-playing Kokopelli from Hopi and Zuni culture, and the snake from the Old Testament. Their beingness could beryllium work successful aggregate ways. On the acheronian side, they amusement that contempt Krasnow’s committedness to coating joy, helium inactive harbored fears astir suffering. These devious tricksters could propulsion the beingness into havoc astatine immoderate moment. On the different hand, Kokopelli and the snake besides correspond fertility, and Krasnow’s paintings could person included them arsenic a hopeful motion of humanity’s rebirth.
Intuitively, I’m apt to thin towards the affirmative messages. One notable happening astir Krasnow’s colour palette is the lack of black. The darkest colors lone determination into shades of navy oregon heavy green. Due to his refusal to overgarment sadness, helium abandoned the awesome of implicit darkness. Krasnow’s paintings are lone meant to inspire.
To guarantee that viewers consciousness that uplifting spirit, the Skirball commissioned a soundtrack to underscore the viewing experience. Curated by Dublab DJ’s Alejandro Cohen and Mark “Frosty” McNeill, the playlist contains a premix of modern songs that transmission the tone of Jewish mysticism, arsenic good arsenic accepted people euphony that circles backmost to Krasnow’s Ukrainian heritage. With these upbeat sounds playing successful the gallery, the uplifting situation blocks retired immoderate tragic associations with Jewish culture. Be definite to crook up the euphony and vibrate with Krasnow’s colorful paintings.
Peter Krasnow: Breathing Joy and Light continues astatine the Skirball Cultural Center (2701 N Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles) done September 3.
Renée Reizman lives successful Los Angeles, wherever she is simply a research-based interdisciplinary creator and writer who examines taste aesthetics and their narration betwixt urbanization, law, and technology.... More by Renée Reizman