Perched above the industrial no man’s land of Hunts Point, Florian Krewer’s South Bronx studio favors bike and car owners. If you drive, you don’t have to carry your wheels up six flights of stairs, as the German painter does daily. However you arrive at the top, the view is worth it. Through a smudged picture hole all of New York is framed. You can catch your breath leaning here, or in a La-Z-Boy which is about the only island of safety in a highly flammable sea of Francis Bacon shudders. There are buckets of oil paint crusting over in eye-biting hues, cigarette cartons, plastic trays, a splattered fan, paintbrushes retrofitted into witch's brooms, a huddle of ladders and studio clothes left for dead. Krewer cleaned before our arrival. Oil paint and rabbit glue tint the air. The wettest looking composition depicts a shadowy figure, stretching at least four feet, flanked by a colony of bats. The other canvases, which all dwarf me, are painted matte black for now, with primitive etchings of animal-spiked erotica. Krewer apologizes for the relative bareness. A shipment of paintings bound for Michael Werner’s London gallery left recently.
This is Krewer’s fourth show with the gallery and the final installment in a trilogy of cascading projects that started in the spring, with a two-pronged exhibition with Michael Werner and Tramps, then transitioned to a Fall/Winter 2021 collaboration with Loewe’s Jonathan Anderson, where Krewer’s figures navigating urban landscapes were juxtaposed with photos by nineties fashion scene-maker David Sims. I wonder if the more explicit compositions for Michael Werner’s London space would make the leap to the runway as deftly. In the show, Krewer leaves behind his figures in urban landscapes in favor of something more explicit: full-frontal sex acts with the occasional tiger intervention. “While the New York show was much more about the outdoors and city, these new works are intimate portraits of my friends and what I consider my adopted family,” Krewer says. “I don’t need to skirt around what interests me, or embellish a topic. I like to strip it down and confront the subject. I think you can feel that.”
This tendency towards head-on collision is what makes Krewer’s practice so enticingly visceral. There is very little padding between the artist’s hand, life and the audience, allowing for a type of viewing that is atypical to painting’s inside-baseball twang. “I get up early in the day and head right to the studio after just a glass of water. This way my mind is clear and the impressions of the night are razor sharp and untainted,” Krewer confesses. “I then get to work through these experiences and emotions that come with it. I usually work for hours on end.”