Looking at “Index,” by Paul Krainak, people might think that the materials hung on the walls of the Ford Center for the Fine Arts (CFA) Round Room are just a bunch of carpet squares. They would be right, and Paul Krainak doesn’t mind at all.
“I’m not precious about my art,” Krainak said during the Sept. 17 lecture that heralded the installation’s opening.
Krainak—a nationally recognized artist and critic who is the chair of Bradley University’s art department—happily admits that the items in his installation are common. That’s why he chose them.
“I wanted to go back to the things that inspired me as an artist,” he said.
Although the installation used unusual materials to convey Krainak’s vision, he is much better known as a modernist painter. During the lecture, he showed slides of some of his paintings and discussed his artistic mindset.
“[Modernism] is about coming to terms with the anxiety of the modern world,” said Krainak. “It’s about negation and rejection of the classic order.”
His paintings make use of sharp lines and squares and visual texture in an attempt to “pull the rug out from under [formalism].”
If that sounds confusing, the rest of Krainak’s lecture would have been baffling. He talked about “negation and rejection of the classic order” without explaining what that meant artistically. He described his paintings as “flattened 3D spaces” and “more poetical, intellectual, psychological expressions of surrealism,” but to the casual observer, they looked more like squares of color.
Those students who are moving towards a degree in art seemed to leave the lecture enlightened, while their classmates left with a kind of appreciative befuddlement. The lecture was open to all students, but its secrets were hidden from those who had not been versed in the world of modern art.
Senior Ben Boor said that the lecture changed his entire view of the installation. “I was initially unimpressed and turned off…I don’t usually think of art requiring context.”
The carpet squares, foam mats and wooden panels that make up the installation all represent materials that are found and used in an artist’s studio. While for some students, the show is more reminiscent of a trip to Home Depot than visiting an art gallery, others enjoyed the unusual approach to art.
“I wanted to see what [the art] was about,” said junior Liz Picurro. “I like how he used things that inspired him. It flows nicely.”
Some students could not quite decide what they thought of the unique exhibit.
“It’s interesting in a weird way,” said freshman Carmen Caraballo. “I noticed it right away.”