Craig Kucia: we left with our hearts tired
April 24, 2009 - June 5, 2009

Artist Biography
Craig Kucia
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Born 1975, Cleveland, OH

Lives and works in Miami, FL





2002-2003     Chelsea School of Art, London, UK

1999               B.F.A., Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH

1997               Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh, Scotland





2014            accidental documentaries, SHAHEEN modern and contemporary art, Cleveland, OH

2009            we left with our hearts tired, SHAHEEN modern and contemporary art, Cleveland, OH

2008            authors wrote of places i had never seen, The Melvin Gallery at Florida Southern College, Lakeland, FL

2007            sundays were spent talking of rockets, Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Hollywood, FL

                    music for people without friends, Kevin Bruk Gallery, Miami, FL

2006            broken smiles, lost tragedies, fractured talks, and in the end, it was perfect, Kevin Bruk Gallery, Miami, FL

2005            Kevin Bruk Gallery (at Art Basel Miami: Nova section, Miami, FL)

2004            ....and no one had anything to say, SHAHEEN modern and contemporary art, Cleveland, OH

2003            what fun our life could have been, Kevin Bruk Gallery, Miami, FL

2002            Blum & Poe, Santa Monica, CA, (two person exhibition with Aaron Noble)

2000            the days are spent..., SHAHEEN modern and contemporary art, Cleveland, OH





2013           Koi No Yokan, 101/exhibit, Los Angeles, CA
2009           Time + Temp, Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Hollywood, FL
                   Light of Day, William Busta Gallery, Cleveland, OH
2008           Thoughts on Democracy, Wolfsonian Museum, Miami Beach, FL

                   Summer Show, Marlborough Gallery, Chelsea, New York, NY

2005           Drawing Narrative, Wooster Art Museum, Wooster, OH

                   Syzygy, SHAHEEN, Cleveland, OH

                   Beautiful Dreamer, Spaces Gallery, Cleveland, OH

2004           Eye of the Needle, Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles, CA

                   Light and Atmosphere (curated by Cheryl Hartup), Miami Art Museum. Miami, FL

2003           40" x 30", Kevin Bruk Gallery (at Art Basel Miami: Positions section, Miami, FL)

                   East International (curated/selected by Toby Webster and Eva Rothschild), Norwich Gallery, Norwich College of Art and

                   Design, England

2000            Trailer, GreeneNaftali Inc., New York, NY

1999            Student Independent Exhibition, The Reinberger Galleries, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH (awarded "Best of

                    Show" - as juried by Matthew Ritchie and Luca Buvoli])




Progressive Art Collection, Mayfield Village, OH

Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL

High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA

The Mugrabi Family Collection




Utter, Douglas Max. Birds, Bees & Beyond, Scene Magazine, April, 2009
Utter, Douglas Max. The Right Stuff, Scene Magazine, April, 2009

Gibson, Allison. Craig Kucia, Beautiful Decay, #Y, 2008

Delgado, Anjanette. Rosa de otono, Vogue Latin America, Sept. 2008
Johnson, Tish. The Radar Art, Coat Check, Miami Modern Luxury, Sept/Oct, 2008
O’Rourke, Jayme. FIM Artist Showcase, Florida International Magazine, Nov. 2007
Trelles, Emma. Artist Craig Kucia’s Hypnotic Way of Remembering, South Florida Sun Sentinal, Oct. 2007
Soler, Eileen. Playful exhibit opens Hollywoo’sd Arts and Cultural Center Season, Miami Herald, Oct. 2007
Mills, Michael. Many Sundays Spent Interpreting Pictures, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Oct. 2007
Suarez De Jesus, Carlos. Ice Meets Vice, Miami New Times, Sept. 2007
Lynn, John. Primates and Confections, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Sept. 2007
O’Bourke, Brett. Smash Menagerie, 944 Magazine Miami, August. 2007
Sokol, Brett, Summer 2007 in Pop Culture, Ocean Drive MagazineMiami, August. 2007
Sokol, Brett, Craig Kucia’s Art has childlike appeal-but it’s serious, Miami Herald, July. 2007
Work_and _Word,, No.19, 2007

Weinberg, Michelle. Craig Kucia, Tema Celeste, No. 118, 2006

Moreno, Gean. News, Miami, Contemporary Magazine, No. 86, 2006

Barrenechea, Victor.  Wynwood Gallery Walk Delicious. Biscayne Boulevard Times, Oct. 2006

Suarez De Jesus, Carlos. Fall Crawl. Miami New Times. Sept. 2006

Turner, Elisa. Critic's Pick. The Miami Herald, Sept. 2006

Dunlop, Beth. The Art of the Matter. Metropolitan Home, Sept. 2006

Tranberg, Dan. New York Art Fairs help put Clevelanders on the Map. Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 2006

Tranberg, Dan. Beautiful Dreamer Awakens Romantics. Cleveland Plain Dealer, Oct. 2005

Bly, Liz. Perhance to Dream. Cleveland Free Times, Oct. 2005

Utter, Douglas Max. Post-Toastie. Angle Magazine, June 2004

Tranberg, Dan. Painter Has a Way Without Words. Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 2004

Pantsios, Anastasia. Dreams of Children. Cleveland Free Times, May 2004

Einspruch, Franklin. Remain in Light Wheel. Miami New Times, Nov. 2003

Yannopoulos, Charles. Pools of Potential. Cleveland Scene, July 2000



Press Releases
Craig Kucia: we left with our hearts tired

  Craig Kucia

we left with our hearts tired


April 24th – June 5th, 2009



SHAHEEN modern and contemporary art is delighted to announce an exhibition of new paintings by Craig Kucia.  There will be an opening reception for the artist on Friday, April 24th from 7–9:00 p.m.  The exhibition will continue through June 5th.

For his first exhibition at SHAHEEN since 2004, Kucia continues his painterly exploration of the visual and psychological spaces that arise between memory and imagination, ultimately arriving at images that are rooted in personal and collective experience, yet tinged with an element of the fantastic and otherworldly.  While Kucia continues to incorporate images of flora, fauna and the occasional human figure into his compositions, his recent work has become increasingly pre-occupied with the depiction of commonplace objects.  Selected for their metaphorical characteristics, personal relevance (to the artist), and ability to act as surrogates for human entities, the often banal items and animals that populate Kucia’s vaguely narrative scenes are also chosen for their capacity to round-out and balance composition, as the artist continues to equipoise his storytelling impulse with his strong formalist concerns.  Through the artist’s multifarious and lively paint handling and sophisticated compositional sensibility, the animate and inanimate in his paintings tend to reverse roles, as human and animal figures become objectified and objects take on a life of their own.  The resulting paintings convey the feeling of being simultaneously awake and dreaming.  As with most of Kucia’s work of the past ten years, his recent paintings tend to slip freely between genres, ultimately eluding easy classification.

Over the past four years, Kucia’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Kevin Bruk Gallery, Miami, FL; The Art and Cultural Center of Hollywood, Hollywood, FL; and an early-career retrospective/survey exhibition at Florida Southern College’s Melvin Art Gallery, which was accompanied by a catalogue.  Kucia’s work is included in the permanent collections of The Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; The Mugrabi Family Collection; and Progressive Art Collection, Cleveland.  Kucia received his B.A. in painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1999, and went on to study at London’s Chelsea School of Art (2002-2003) before returning to Cleveland.  Kucia currently lives and works in Miami, FL.



During the exhibition, SHAHEEN is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Thursday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. and by appointment.


» PDF version


Craig Kucia's paintings at Shaheen / The Plain Dealer

Craig Kucia's paintings at Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art in Cleveland play with complex illusions


by Steven Litt/Plain Dealer Art Critic
Sunday May 24, 2009


It's easy to feel hometown pride over Craig Kucia, a Cleveland native who has achieved considerable success since graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1999 with a bachelor of fine arts in painting.

After studying at the Chelsea School of Art in London in 2002-2003, Kucia returned to Cleveland and then moved to Miami, where he continues to produce bright and colorful pictorial fantasies undercut with visual mischief and subversion.


An exhibition of recent works by Kucia, on view at Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art in Cleveland, shows why the artist has been collected by institutions such as the Miami Art Museum and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.


Kucia's paintings are ambitious and absorbing,intellectually engaging and technically formidable. He's a big talent. At the same time, the Shaheen exhibition suggests there are limits to Kucia's approach, which is based on a coy, knowing artificiality and a series of highly schematized visual games. More than anything, Kucia's work rises out of an era in which artists use their work as much to comment self consciously on the nature their media as to convey other forms of content. Kucia's work, in particular, has the feel of a jest intended for insiders.


The show consists of a half dozen large paintings, which present the viewer with odd or surreal scenarios delivered with a spirit of childlike innocence. All focus on scenes of nature painted with flat, stagelike backdrops, against which butterflies, birds and woodland creatures cavort playfully and occasionally alight on flowers built up in gooey relief with thick layers of bright pigment.

Kucia uses a whole catalog of illusionistic devices to play with a viewer's perceptions, offering sweetness and naivete while withdrawing it at the same time.


For example, in a painting with the willfully obtuse title, "lines, maps and 15 years of posting letters down the street," Kucia paints a tree stump with a flower pot filled with colorful blossoms depicted in a naive, childlike manner.


Next to the pot, a lightbulb dangles from a cable that appears to be taped to the blue sky itself, a logical impossibility that undercuts the other illusions in the painting and calls direct attention to the flatness of the painted surface itself.


These two sides of Kucia's sensibility -- the cute and the cutting -- rub against each other, producing a kind of nervous, caffeinated visual pleasure that holds a viewer's attention while underscoring the artificiality of his work with a knowing wink.


In a painting titled "the yellow leaf," he paints a rabbit nuzzling right up against the foreground of one painting, but crops the poor creature right below the eyes with the edge of the image, so the viewer can't see the lower half of the bunny's body.


The image suggests that the rest of the rabbit exists somewhere below the edge of the picture, which is presented as a window into an illusory space. Overhead, the rabbit is sheltered by a canopy of leaves in bizarre shades of pale purple and lavender, painted so thickly that they rise off the surface of the image like smooth cake icing. The treatment of the leaves undercuts the idea of picture-as-window and instead emphasizes the nature of a painting as a flat surface covered with pigment.


In another painting, Kucia presents paints a menagerie of birds and forest creatures perched on the branches of a tree blazing with foliage in the yellows and oranges of autumn. But, like the hapless rabbit, the woodland creatures are cropped. Kucia slices them vertically and makes half of their bodies vanish, as if they were wandering in and out of invisible picture frames.


The most impressive painting in the show, which measures nine feet wide by seven feet high, is a virtual catalog of such devices. Tree branches painted in a crisp, schematic manner, criss-cross the surface, creating a layer of flat, stagelike space detached in a pronounced way from the deep background, a scrim of blurry, dark green leaves.


A cat, an owl and other creatures perch on the branches amid tumbling apples, dangling lightbulbs, and large hornets' nests, which disgorge thick blots of yellow pigment, some of which sprout tiny wings as if the dabs of pigment were, in fact, angry hornets.


A pair of disembodied sneakers near the bottom of the painting imply the presence of an invisible witness who somehow levitates above the forest floor. By not showing the body of the person in the sneakers, Kucia entices the viewer to fill in the blanks and to participate in his game of illusion.


The question is whether there's a point to Kucia's work beyond elaborate sleights of hand and variations on baitand-switch.


The artist's exploration of fantasy, lush palette and elaborately formal brushwork parallel the work of Dana Schutz, another recent graduate of the art institute, whose paintings have captured an even bigger and more enthusiastic audience.


In Schutz's case, however, the visual fantasies have greater psychological force and greater imaginative range. The protagonists in Schutz's paintings devour their own bodies and rebuild the remaining fragments. They wander devastated landscapes as if they were the last inhabitants on earth. Or they gather ghoulishly around an operating table to watch surgeons slice body parts.


Schutz's images assert the power of paintings to evoke the bizarre and the irrational in a fluent improvisational manner that seems somehow emotionally raw and unfiltered, but is also closely wired to current in contemporary culture.


Kucia's work is both more calculated and narrower in range. He's gifted and fluent, but his work leaves the impression that not enough is at stake. To break out, might have to abandon some of the formulas that work so comfortably for him now. It could be worth a try.


» PDF version

Craig Kucia
lines, maps and 15 years of posting letters down the street, 2009
oil on canvas
54 x 54 inches

Craig Kucia
songs that should never be written, 2009
oil on canvas
48 x 48 inches

Craig Kucia
it was like the sound of a flight of stairs falling down a flight of stairs, 2009
oil on canvas
54 x 54 inches

Craig Kucia
the yellow leaf, 2009
oil on canvas
30 x 30 inches

Craig Kucia
practical living takes away everything that it can, 2009
oil on canvas
54 x 54 inches