Ella Kruglyanskaya: Fancy Problems
September 4 – October 3, 2015
Thomas Dane Gallery
3 & 11 Duke Street St James’s, London SW1Y 6BN, UK
Residing in Green Park—amongst London, England’s most historical streets and close enough to Buckingham Palace that from the roof you could peep in on the Queen in her birthday suit—lies Thomas Dane Gallery and their current exhibition, Fancy Problems by Ella Kruglyanskaya.
Ella Kruglyanskaya (b. 1978) is a Latvian-born artist, now living and working in New York City. Fancy Problems is her second solo exhibition in London after her debut at Studio Voltaire, a gallery based in South London, a long way from the wealth and splendor of her work’s new home in Green Park where the people have real fancy problems.
Her creations for this exhibition consist of large painted canvases that portray seemingly powerful ladies doing all manner of activities from dancing, painting, and some simple gazing into the distance just off your eye line. The large scale of these works, done in bold block tube painted colors, are held high on the wall, holding court with dominance and not giving a fig about the huddled wine-swallowing-gallery-opening-goers. These oil painted characters leak a high level of sass from these rigid looks as you feel a sense of pity and, more often than not, you are blanked by the ladies as they look ever so slightly out of frame, not bothered in the slightest you are in their presence. The marks of these paintings, like the woman in the frames, are strong and sure of themselves. A nonchalance is felt in each brush stroke; the marks are casual like the women are confident, assertive and sure they do no wrong.
Ta Ta Cha Cha Cha (2015), is the pinnacle of this exhibition and rounds up the attitude of the women Kruglyanskaya has created. In Ta Ta Cha Cha Cha, two women shake their behinds at the viewer with their heads only partially in the frame. Staring at this work, you have a slight sense of leering and creepiness gazing at these huge arses like some sleazy man on the underground. This specific work embodies all the ladies in Fancy Problems with their ‘who gives a damn that you’re here’ and ‘look but don’t touch’ attitude towards the viewer. And still, somehow, through this rudeness these ladies create a desire and appeal that you can’t help but fall for.
Among these canvases, Ella Kruglyanskaya and Thomas Dane have decided to show a selection of framed sketches demonstrating the origins of these women. These fail to enhance or offer any extra insight into the main events of these large buxom girls. Sketches should be reserved for either uncreative curators filling space or a creative genius retrospective at your local museum. I draw your attention to my dislike for these sketches hanging in Fancy Problems because Kruglyanskaya need not show her workings; she has given us her answer and this is its not a math test. There is no need for them, and all it achieves is a cheapening of the strong and independent final pieces.
Ella has created a striking exhibition that can’t fail to please the eye as she “mines the histories of painting, textiles design and graphic arts”. This is where the beauty, intrigue, and interest lie in Kruglyanskaya’s work. She has created images that are not only relevant to today, but also yesterday and tomorrow. The paintings seem timeless in the way that they reference 1920/30s fashion illustrations, 1950/60s newspaper comic art, and WWII We can do it posters, yet they at no point feel dated and resting in the bath of nostalgia. With all these elements of timing, date, strength, and sass, Kruglyanskaya has made something that you feel you know so well, yet it also feels so richly contemporary.
 Thomas Dane Gallery, 2015, ‘Fancy Problems’ press release, London, England