The Interactive Mythology of Severin Krön

by Jason Stoneking

The artwork of Severin Krön is both a reflection of and a reaction to our times. It responds to the increasing speed at which civilization is shifting and shuffling through the various permutations of its cultural history searching for the magic combination that will unlock some deeper understanding. The focus of his recent series, Permutable Art, is on exploring the commutability of the relationships between iconic, archetypal, narrative and abstract images. His works often feature recognizable, as well as invented mythological characters, forces of nature and representatives of the animal kingdom. Also figuring prominently are Krön's own signature blend of abstractions and his personal cosmic inner landscaping.

The sections of his images can be moved, flipped, turned and reassembled in countless combinations. This interchangeability mirrors the chameleonesque experience of personal identity in a populace with fingertip access to its creative history, and therefore a growing cultural literacy and familiarity with its own context. The more faces of human expression we are exposed to, the more of them we begin to feel comfortable wearing. We are becoming jacks of all trades, trying on all the hats, and hiding behind all the masks. We have gotten wise to the idea that the great and iconic archetypes, the assortment of characters in the ancient texts, the personnages of our religions, the heroes in our fables, are all just interchangeable representations of a common underlying human reality. We are each the cop and the killer, the sinner and saint, the virgin and the whore, the lion and the gazelle, the purveyor of fire or water.

It is these endless combinations of dualities that make up the experience we like to think of as individuality, and each of us is constantly fine-tuning his or her own personal remix of these facets and functions. But the more we're all aware of that, the less we are satisfied to look at strictly linear and binary cultural representations of the human experience. We hunger to see our multifaceted and fluid dynamic portrayed with all its nuance in the art and culture that we consume. And also in the way that we consume it. We expect to be able to customize that experience, whether it's in the way we listen to music, the way we watch movies, or even the way we read the news. We live in an age in which the individual is king.

Krön's tableaus are able to change with us, to acknowledge the flexibility and the resulting endurance of humanity's charm. To both erase and keep up with the times. Krön looks, with contemporary eyes, for the intuitive universal that is present in traditional symbolic archetypes and narrative elements, and he also looks for the presence of these age-old elements and archetypes in the contemporary. Each of his characters and symbols represents a fully formed narrative, and their web of interchangeability across time (and across the picture plane) represents the mother of all narratives: the vast multidimensional interweave in which all theories are true, all perspectives simultaneously viable and visible.

Krön incorporates the classic ingredients of narrative in a constantly fluctuating image that responds to the fancies and moods of the viewer on a given day. So it never ceases to mirror the experience of its owner. And in this way, the owner of the work is really always looking at the externalization of the art that is taking place inside them: the reconfigured image of reality that they are projecting as they stir new knowledge and experiences into their previous understanding of existence. By engaging with Krön's work, the viewer becomes consciously aware that they are active participants in the larger context of human mythology, that their own particular combinations of influences and archetypes are feeding back into the ever-changing and ever-multiplying permutations of the eternal story. The viewer is thus empowered as the dialer of the magic combination, the vessel not just for their own, but for the universal truth.