Gregory Volk

8 Paintings, 21 Drawings, and a Table (Deutsch)

What I would first like to discuss are not Rudolf De Crignis's 8 
carefully-crafted monochrome paintings on the wall, nor his 21 delicate 
graphite on paper drawings laid out in a row on a narrow table, but two empty 
spaces-two volumes-which, in my opinion, are very much part of the 
installation.  The one, a corridor or passageway between the two series, 
seems charged with the palpable dialogue going on between both series, 
between the fine mesh of brush strokes in the paintings and the equally fine 
(to the point of near-invisibility) pencil lines of the drawings, as well as 
between the luminosity of both.  This creates an intriguing situation for the 
viewer: you're not outside, looking at several works from a distance, but 
inside an empty space that is filled with relationships.  The other space is 
the much larger, expansive and open-ended one starting on the far side of the 
table, which is nothing but the gallery itself, already a pretty compelling 
structure in its own right, with its vaulting interior and meditative aura.  
Generosity is a word that springs to mind: a generous alertness to this 
space, and to how it might feel to be a viewer in this space.  


Regarding the paintings: each differs in terms of lighter or darker hues, 
brush strokes, texture, and, ultimately, presence, although the same 
ultramarine blue pigment was used throughout.  Variation, no matter how 
understated, is crucial to De Crignis's aesthetic, and while repetition also 
figures in, what actually results are completely singular works-or one could 
say they are a series of linked singularities.  Each painting is individually 
made, built, or as the case may be, teased out and discovered, for De 
Crignis's process always involves working with, rather than at or on, his 
materials-intimately and personally.  He builds up his paintings slowly, 
through several layers, and one can sense their density, their history.  
There are thousands of brush strokes, but they have a strange quality of 
being simultaneously superpresent and withdrawing.  Color is obviously 
crucial, this lustrous and elemental blue, in its several incarnations.  In 
De Crignis's work, it's particularly concentrated, but it also seems to 
emanate from the paintings altogether, to test the borders, enter into the 
space, and interact with the changing light that is already there.  

Regarding the drawings: they're on standard sheets of white paper, which is 
interesting, because their effulgence would suggest something else entirely, 
like a coat of glowing white paint.  An extremely normal material thus 
assumes an unexpected vigor, even something evocative and reverential, 
although without any fanfare.  The visual fields consist of many straight, 
hand-drawn pencil lines, and De Crignis uses pencils of varying thicknesses, 
just not in combination-one type of pencil for each drawing.  There is 
something refreshingly manic and absurd about this action of bending over and 
drawing dozens of barely visible lines on a blank sheet of paper, although 
the results don't seem like that at all.  On the contrary, these drawings 
seem at once casual and exquisite, and they're filled with a sense of 
discovery.  Something unusual happens: from certain perspectives you can just 
barely make out traces of lines, and it appears that De Crignis did not draw 
on, but rather into, paper, into some recesses, some withdrawing interior.  
But from others you can see a great deal-pronounced structures and roiling 
geometries.  For all the austerity of De Crignis's aesthetic, fluctuation is 
a constant occurrence, something that also happens with his paintings.  Take 
one step and things are rearranged.  Bend slightly and this happens again.  
Light coming from the outside, or from above, changes things entirely.

Regarding the table: it does exactly what it's supposed to-displaying the 
drawings in this particular way-and yet it also has its own resonances, of 
ceremonies and banquets, rituals and celebrations.  In general there is 
something quietly celebratory about De Crignis's work.  The white surface of 
the table, incidentally, is gesso-the same which underlies the paintings-and 
this introduces an intriguing circular motion, a cycle between origins and 

The wood of the table is related to canvas stretchers, gesso is also used in 
paintings, the white sheets have the appeal of fresh paint, and De Crignis's 
pencil structures also suggest underlying charcoal sketches historically used 
by artists in composing a painting.  The whole piece becomes a kind of 
reconfigured or taken-apart "painting", and it responds to the intact 
vertical paintings on the wall.  They comment to one another, bring each 
other into focus.  The more you study the drawings, the more you understand 
what's going on in the paintings, and vice versa.  This happens with a 
considerable subtlety; De Crignis's self-effacing works ask for some 
patience, for an ability to wait. And without self-consciously being about 
site-specificity, they seem enormously, and lyrically, engaged with the 
specifics of exactly where they are.