Maria Kreyn: Polyphony at Heist
Entering the elegant secret location of the Heist gallery’s impressive debut exhibition Polyphony by Russian artist Maria Kreyn, one is struck by the painter’s classic renaissance and baroque style, with works resembling those of 16th-century masters like Caravaggio. Chiaroscuro and the passionate characterisations of that era are re-invented with a contemporary edge. Sensual and powerful, the pieces evoke mystery and strong emotions.
In itself, the gallery space adds an inspirational element of intrigue and glamour to the show, lending it the aura of an underground club or a hidden speakeasy in 1920s Paris.
At once remote and intimate, Kreyn’s paintings are serene and contemplative, yet intense, sometimes violent. Repeated in several compositions are symbolic themes of wolves or dogs trying to attack a stork – which seem to carry the implication of death stalking the source of life – while a nearly naked man cowers beneath the canines as if to represent human helplessness in the face of it all.
In other works couples embrace – two women, or a man and a woman – to create a suggestion of ardent sentiment with almost religious undertones. Women are a primary subject – they are strong yet fragile, valiant but with a wistful quality evocative of classical styles.
Combined with the still pieces is performance art, including modern dance with floating fan-animated sheaths of fabric that take on a life of their own like undulating strokes of paint – the effect being like one of Kreyn’s paintings come alive. Music is also part of the show, with arrangements by punk rock musician David Triana, and compositions using unconventional instruments by Tim Wheater, Aaron Horn, Sula Mae and Cherub.
As Kreyn’s first exhibit, Polyphony is truly inspiring and remarkably sophisticated for an artist in her twenties. Clearly, we are witnessing the birth of a “master” in her own right.
Maria Kreyn: Polyphony is at Heist from 10th May until 29th May 2018. For further information visit the exhibition’s website here.