AO REVIEW: Maria Kreyn’s Chronos in Venice, Italy

May 20th, 2024

MON Art Foundation
Chronos, the latest solo exhibition of works by the painter Maria Kreyn opened during the inaugural week of the 60th Venice Biennale, showcasing a series of ten new large-scale paintings. Set against the backdrop of the historic St. George’s Anglican Church in Venice, the paintings depict brooding tempests – the proverbial meeting of sky and sea at once turbulent and serene. Influenced by mythology and the sublime, Kreyn’s works are meditations on the fantastic forces of the natural world, as well as humanity’s inextricable entwinement with it. The storied church setting heightens the sense of the mystical and transcendent, turning each painting into a kind of altarpiece that invites prolonged contemplation.

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Image: Maria Kreyn, A Lilac Storm Walks on Water, 2023, oil on linen.

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Image: Maria Kreyn, Folding Time, 2023, oil on linen.

Deriving her technical foundations from Old Masters works, Kreyn reframes these techniques and expands her pictorial vocabulary into a realm of stirring emotional narratives and surreal fictions. One sees the vestiges of Romantic masters such as Caspar David Friedrich, J.M.W. Turner, and Thomas Moran, as well as allusions to literary works by Shakespeare and Ovid. With Chronos, Kreyn steps beyond these classical influences and traditional portraiture to inflect her works with a more contemporary abstraction. The paintings in this series play with prismatic geometric elements and atmospheric space, appearing to be lit from within through an intuitive process of layering the paint onto the canvas. In her own words, Kreyn is in the process of seeing “if the gesture of the climate, the atmosphere and this larger sense of the space that we inhabit can be a metaphor for the figure itself, as well as for the mind that lives inside the figure.” In her works, the relationship and tension between human presence and the vast and overwhelming nature transmits a reconsidered notion of the Romantic sublime.

Kreyn’s rich, contemplative dreamscapes seem to exist outside of time, boundless and alive. Playing with familiar elements, she pushes towards an archetypal expression that encapsulates the universality of human experience. In an interview with Art Observed, the artist reflects, “It’s a deep meditation on being a body and existing as a human in time, and the ability to create a portal into what feels like a beautiful and spatially deep world. Ideally, it will feel like a space you can come home to. Even if that space is turbulent, there is still a kind of peace inside of them.” This insight manifests in her canvases, which seem to reflect our collective narratives and offer glimpses into the profound depth of shared existence.

Chronos is organized by Maria Vega and The Ministry of Nomads Foundation, a London-based gallery and philanthropic art space for established and emerging artists.

Image: Maria Kreyn in her studio, courtesy of the artist.


On view until June 22nd, 2024


St. George’s Anglican Church

Campo San Vio, 30123
Venezia , Italia