31.5.11

New York, the open box and getting beyond the surface...

I had a number of very interesting conversations with artists in New York. The ideas sometimes revolved around certain questions... most notably the need for painting to have a relationship with reality and experience as opposed to painting as a kind of exclusive painting language game. On one level it is a language game of course but I increasingly see its meaning as a much more layered and open. The question is, what do we have left that we can draw on as a source and how do we go about making paintings that do this?

Mark Grotjahn is showing nine paintings at Anton Kern Gallery (the show has been titled Nine Faces). The images consist of curving lines that seem to be painted with a palette knife. The lines accumulate into layered, woven swathes of paint, which somehow conjure up faces and eyes. It is exhilarating to behold them but I do sense a danger in these paintings which is that the technique might become too assured and predictable. Editing (so crucial) is always a challenge because one can never get enough distance from ones work to be objective. What does one release from the studio? Why is one painting so much better than another very similar one? How should the work be presented? I think this show might have been much more intense with just five paintings.








Mark Grotjahn
Untitled (Vertical Almond face 41.04), 2010
Oil on cardboard mounted on linen
108 1/8 x 73 1/4 inches
Courtesy Anton Kern Gallery, NY




Mark Grotjahn
Untitled (Distinguished Multiple V's Late Monet Face 41.34), 2010
Oil on cardboard mounted on linen
119 3/8 x 84 3/8 inches
Courtesy Anton Kern Gallery, NY




Installation view
Anton Kern Gallery, 2011
Courtesy Anton Kern Gallery, NY



Jean Fautrier knew that paintings could become paintings of paintings. Style then becomes everything and the inherent risk of kitsch and self-parody are ever present. Fautrier devised strategies to navigate this problem. The English painter Katy Moran does so as well. Initially seductive, the paintings she has on view at Andrea Rosen Gallery look like excercises in a certain kind of post-war European painting. They play the painting game. The problem is that if painting is a closed box the air inside can get sterile. It is necessary to create small openings in the box to let life in, sunlight, rain, the smell of the street or the earth, the cries of a child or the sounds of the night. Suffering, pain, sadness, joy, love, sex… these too of course, not necessarily as representation but as a source.




Katy Moran
at home with mickey
2011
acrylic and collage on canvas
19.88 x 17.09 inches
(50.5 x 43.4 cm)

courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery




Installation View at Andrea Rosen Gallery
courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery

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