Critics’ Picks

View of “Fawn Krieger: State of Matter,” 2021.

View of “Fawn Krieger: State of Matter,” 2021.

New York

Fawn Krieger

348 South 4th St.
January 10–February 14, 2021

Resistance is a manifestation of fierce hope. After Donald Trump was inaugurated in 2017, Fawn Krieger took this notion to heart and into her studio, where she began to make a new body of work by pressing fired, underglazed pieces of clay into ceramic, frame-like troughs, filled with wet, often dyed, cement. Four years and 113 sculptures later, Krieger’s “Experiments in Resistance,” 2017–21—a series of ceramics done in vibrant Atomic Age hues (’50s-bathroom pinks, subdued yellows, and Formica greens)—reads like a record of time, tactility, and emotional perspicacity. Arranged in clusters spanning the floor, set upon pedestals and shelves, or directly mounted onto the gallery’s walls, these hanging and freestanding objects—fifty-eight in total here—combine geometric and organic forms in considered yet spontaneous ways. In Experiment in Resistance 70, 2019, among the first pieces one encounters upon entering the exhibition, the dried cement looks chocolaty and malleable, like cookie dough. Squished within it are hollowed rectangles, which contain toylike cubes and cylinders that recall the textures and shapes of childhood, tinged by a subtle forcefulness.

The earliest sculptures from this series feel fairly restrained. Take Experiment in Resistance 7, 2017, in which a group of irregular, bone-colored rectangles and squares emerge from a dark field, as though they were the ruins of a buried city. However, Experiment in Resistance 107, 2020, is decidedly less quiet—the voluminous ceramic blocks embedded into the work’s half-moon structure are like packages stuffed tightly into a mailbox that might burst at any moment. In other pieces, the concrete takes over, its rough surface practically swallowing up the forms within, as we see in Experiment in Resistance 89 and 101, both 2020.

Krieger’s sculptures are documents of materiality and cultural tumult, as the show’s title, “State of Matter,” suggests. The artworks were made during a brutal period of time; nonetheless, their beauty underlines the stubborn tenacity of hope.