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Judith Kruger
Bentley Gallery, Phoenix, Arizona
Recommendation by Deborah Ross

Judith Kruger, “Lapis Pond Minutia,” 2014, mineral pigments, oyster shell, sumi ink, gold, silver, brass and aluminum leaf, gold powder, tengujo paper, kumohada paper, linen on panels, 60 X 90”. Photo courtesy Bentley Gallery and CLUTCH

Continuing through October 31, 2014

Nihonga, referring to a traditional and revered Japanese painting method using mineral pigments, has guided Judith Kruger’s work for more than a decade, and she has immersed herself in its strict techniques. In the New York-based artist’s first solo show here, viewers are treated to a stunning array of her recent endeavors — jewel-like colors and unusually layered surfaces evoking a Japanese aesthetic yet boldly reflecting Kruger’s own, more contemporary point of view.

“Lapis Pond Minutia” is a 90-inch-wide, six-paneled meditation on the stillness of shallow water that exemplifies Kruger’s reverence for her materials. Using delicate Tengujo and Kumohada papers on top of linen as her surface, she explores geometric and amorphous shapes with pigments made from lapis, malachite, red iron oxide, coral and quartz. Not only that, she incorporates gold, silver, brass and aluminum leaf, aged sumi ink, and crushed shells.

Other works in the show also employ swirls, swaths and marks of precious materials, yet all are calming to the eye, especially “Rain Karma” an 84-inch-wide painting on linen where a wide stripe of gold leaf coexists with rusty red droplets scattered on a yellow field — offering a beautiful tension between opulence and simplicity.

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