Lies Kraal, "Le Taquin", 2005
Lies Kraal is known best for her monochromatic acrylic paintings, which offer their viewers severely reductive surfaces that nonetheless retain a seductive quality by virtue of their soft finishes. The artist, born in Rotterdam but a resident of Los Angeles since 1955, was juried into an exhibition in 1983 by Donald Judd, and she has work in the Panza Collection among other international venues.
During the course of the last twenty-five years a specific geometry has informed some of her works, one derived from the nineteenth-century French mathematical game known as "Le Taquin." In English it is called The Tormentor. The version used by Kraal is three inches square and contains seven tiles of various polygonal shapes. The goal of the game is to assemble them into a square.
In this collaboration with Robert Arber, the artist has enlarged the game pieces in a rapidograph drawing, one piece per each of seven prints. The eighth print features the assembled puzzle. The artist and printer chose vellum for this edition, as opposed to the Rives BFK paper normally used for the project's editions, which allows one to envision the pieces coming together in a variety of sequences--but also alludes to the perceptual layers one experiences in the presence of minimalist art itself.
"Le Tanquin" is a game that at first appears simple, yet the longer it is observed the more complex it becomes until it resolves, once again, into a single perceived form. The game thus provides an analog for the progression of alternating perceptions that minimalist art can provoke. Viewers tend to apprehend a minimalist object in its entirety all at once when first encountered, grasping its gestalt without even seeing all sides of it. When permutations within the object become apparent, however, you cannot escape seeing how complicated such a simple idea can become.
by Bill Fox