Oliver Kruse: Concentrated and Concrete

Some Thoughts on the Work of Oliver Kruse

All creativity is founded on concentration, on a spiritual and intellectual process focusing consciousness on a single point. Initially that point is not at all abstract, it is a material form. In this process it is above all the artist who mobilises all sensuous and intellectual forces, concentrating them so as to arrive at visionary tension, no matter whether he is looking at a tree in nature or a geometrical shape. That is true of both the sensuous manifestation – in terms of height, width, state – and the idea behind this.

Here another dimension becomes significant: space, which is absolutely essential for Oliver Kruse as an artist. This becomes accessible with the implementation of perception. With the act of seeing there comes into being a relationship between the observer and the object towards which he directs his gaze. This relationship then stands in front of him in the space of awareness, emerging between the two poles of seeing and being seen. There it exists in the intermediacy of a dialectical relationship, in approaching and withdrawing, in other words in movements. This form in space now awakens in the observer all conceivable motivations and interests in knowing more. In that space he wants to grasp this object as what it is per se and for the seeing subject. Here the initially laboured word concentration turns out to be a critical idea which simultaneously refers to method. It is characterised by the reflexivity of integrating material seeing into the all-embracing existence of knowledge and experience. In this concentration becomes contemplation, which in its core consists of intense and meditative reflection. Its object is discursive and critical observation of concentrated perception since contemplation is essentially a critical self-regulation of the process of knowing and at the same time of the knowing subject itself. Here the knowing I directs itself towards what is ultimate, unified, decisive, and essential. However this action takes place in space, no matter whether this involves consciousness or real/virtual space.

The work of Oliver Kruse stands in art history's field of sculptural abstraction, the realm of Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Erwin Heerich, and Louis I. Kahn's classically modern architecture. His forms are cubic, spherical, or bell-shaped volumes, ellipsoids, or other geometrical bodies. They exist as models, architecture, walk-through sculpture, and houses, using such materials as wood, cardboard, plastic, polystyrene, fine cement, concrete, and aluminium. His works are on show internationally in galleries, museums, exhibition centres, and sculpture parks.

The special quality of his art lies in the way it comes into existence. Oliver Kruse does not develop his works in two-dimensional concepts on a drawing-board, and then extend or unfold them in the third dimension during a second process of conscious development and creation. Flat areas are not turned into bodies. His forms and structures are the outcome of using computer-aided design. They originate in virtual realms and Kruse is thus seen as a leading representative of digital methods. He devises his forms on, or in screen. They are derived virtually and processually, rotated or sliced, turned on their head or diagonally, and remodelled into all conceivable positions. They are thus time and again transformed and radiate light in different ways as perspectives fluctuate. They change constantly. In the end they are subjected to the gravity of real space with its physical laws. Their final form is thus established. Within this dynamism unfolds ever-new movement, an unmistakeable autonomous existence, and even their charm. So they ultimately turn out to be unfabricated; instead they are something alive and particular, called into reality out of the interplay of endless movements. That is the special nature of Oliver Kruse's sculpture. The seriousness of its identity derives from specific and reflected concentration. Their being is found rather than created. Chance underlies their existence; but as the outcome of prolonged, sceptical, and creative thinking.

From the beginning these geometrical shapes stand in space with unbroken integrity. There they so-to-speak grow under creative supervision. Works like Josephinenstrasse (2001), Zwischenraum (2004), Corner at Mipo (2006), or Clench (2008) owe their surprising distinctiveness to this flow of movement and the form they ultimately take. As an artist Oliver Kruse may speak modestly of found forms but they do not accord with any model. They derive from an autonomous existence which is ultimately elevated into form by way of an artistic decision. This process can be comprehended and to some extent reconstructed in many sequences of computer print-outs. At the same time, in many works still being developed, such as Glocken, it sparks off a high level of expectation. These works do not gain either their initial appearance or their final contours during construction. These emerge in the interplay of dance-like rotations, constant contractions, and utopian transformations.

Oliver Kruse has been trained in a broad range of skills: cabinetmaking, sculpture, and architecture. His sensitivity with regard to space grew as his art unfolded. He has an almost philosophical empathy, with influences ranging from idealism to phenomenology, for the atmospheric and metaphysical qualities of space. For Kruse there is no art without space – whether internal or intermediate, place or location, euclidian or artistic, reflective or sacred. From that anchorage his creativity gains anthropological constancy.

All of Oliver Kruse's forms relate to the human being, but not in terms of static dimensions. The crucial source of his relationship with human life and experience lies in human movements. His sculpture in space itself opens up spaces. It develops through deviations and detours in the aura of vibrations, of proportions, of unexpected and amazing relationships. The latter mainly acquire vitality from the experience of light with whose energy Kruse transforms interrelationships into interactions. Light becomes the key opening up access to spaces full of exciting and vibrant power.

Nevertheless these spaces bring tranquility. They rest in what is well-tested. They share with old pitchers or Korean bowls the quality of distillation and naturalness. Reduced to essential basic forms, this art stands still, firmly rooted, balanced, and thereby true, measured, light. At the same time these works express sensitivity, even vulnerability. Living dimensions can also be felt in their bodies. They unfold in hesitantly cautious, expectant, wondering, animated, and loving approaches, inviting a personal response to their way of being from the sensitive observer. Such contact awakens the energies latent in a work into an abundance of views and discoveries. That possibility was intentionally present in these geometrical bodies right from the start.

Oliver Kruse creates works of overflowing emptiness and – with Augustine – silent music. Inspired by tradition, they live out of an artistic awakening and the technical innovations of our times. Even though they are modern, they are oriented towards the human being, towards his or her perceptions and delight in opening to something new so as to devote attention to this, and to marvel and investigate further. His work lives out of the tension between curiosity and its reflection.

Friedhelm Mennekes