Fresh and loud, sweet like sugar: David Criner creates small energetic paintings that project a presence that compares to a large, roughly-cut gem. He layers and laminates paint and fragments of worn text onto his roughly square compositions, where expression and experimentation meet. Ice cream with tiny ice-umbrellas, wobble pudding and dessert fruits, delicious and mouth-watering, cut out of adverts, combine with intense color all to create veritable eye candy in the current exhibition at Gallery Uno, Chicago.
Personal meets Pop, as the collage-driven paintings refer to a recent part of American art history. Robert Rauschenberg believed, that 'a painting is more like the real world if it's made out of the real world' as he integrated disparate materials into his famous Combines in the 1950s. While both artists use expressionistically brushed areas of color combined with found objects attached to a surface, David Criner's work refers more to an inner world than an outer one. In Built For Comfort the soft sleeve of a cardigan would ordinarily express a desire for coziness and comfort, but when paired with Criner's harsh palette, the overall image lends itself to something closer to ecstasy.
Brilliant and seductive, the relatively small size Criner's images may refer to his childhood passion of collecting stamps:
'I collected stamps. They came from all over the world. Some of the images are still etched on my mind. The stamps became my own tiny art museum. The compositions bore evidence to events like wars, Nazism, or baseball. They functioned as gateways to other places and times...' (David Criner)
The stamps were passed to the world; they reached mailboxes and desktops and the privacy of people's homes. The stamps carried the message of their homeland. So do David Criner's paintings. They tell about an untroubled attitude towards life, one that speaks of indulgence, like a sweet treat. But the reality beneath this surface speaks also of struggle, a journey. Have a taste...
DAVID CRINER received his BFA in 1991 from the University of Illinois, Urbana, IL and his MFA in 1995 from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. He has exhibited in the Midwest and California. He enjoys teaching at Northeastern Illinois University and Harper College. David Criner lives and works in Chicago.