Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tony Greene

MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles

Tony Greene, …understand…, 1989  Courtesy of Judie Bamber  © The Estate of Tony Greene

Tony Greene, …understand…, 1989
Courtesy of Judie Bamber © The Estate of Tony Greene

 

When Tony Greene made the 20-odd works in this exhibition, all dated between 1987 and 1990, he knew he was dying of AIDS. This very fact makes even his least political paintings almost unbearably poignant. Greene’s art is devastating and immediate because it is his answer to a question that everyone should consider from time to time: What would you make if you knew you only had a few years to live? Read the rest of this entry »

Jamian Juliano-Villani

"Before Supper", 2013, Acrylic on Canvas, 24"x24"

The riotous, lurid paintings of Jamian Juliano-Villani speak in a language familiar from popular culture, but they articulate things never dreamt even by the most twisted imagination. Aliens having sex, suicidal trousers, and deviant Japanese river imps are just a few of the images that populate her paintings. Despite her work’s irreverent tone, Juliano-Villani is involved in a serious, introspective exploration of her own psyche, of the ethics of appropriation, and of the possibilities for contemporary painting.

We spoke in her Brooklyn studio in May 2014. Read the rest of this entry »

Joe Goode

Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles

goode_flatscreennature

Joe Goode has long made pictures designed to be looked through, not at. His work is deadpan, and seemingly innocuous. The LA Times critic William Wilson, in 1971, called it ‘neutrality-style art’. Perhaps this mildness is why he never got quite as much attention as his childhood friend Ed Ruscha, who also does deadpan but who usually cuts his neutrality with non-sequiturs (often verbal) that are arresting and funny. Goode only trades in the very lightest of humorous touches – a milk bottle painted mauve, for instance, placed on a shelf in front of a mauve monochrome canvas. That was his early Milk Bottle series, (1961-2), still amongst his best-known work. Read the rest of this entry »

Portland2014

Various venues, Portland, OregonPortland2014

In the April issue of frieze, Dan Fox prefaced his review of the 2013 Carnegie International with some observations about the perplexing lack of consensus around what, today, a biennial is actually for. ‘Portland2014’ is the third in this current formulation (the Oregon Biennial ran from 1949 until 2006) but its agenda and format are still, evidently, very much up for grabs. Read the rest of this entry »

Depression

François Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles

depression_web

Here’s a good one: a New York gallery comes to Los Angeles to do an exhibition of its artists in a colleague’s space. The exhibition opens a week before the home-coming leg of Mike Kelley’s touring retrospective, installed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, two years after the revered artist’s suicide. What do the New Yorkers title their show? ‘Depression’. Read the rest of this entry »

John Tweddle

Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles

Tweddle_1742_large

John Tweddle is one of those artists who never really fitted into any scene he found himself in. The astonishing, eccentric body of work that he has produced during his lifetime may be both the cause and effect of this condition. Born in 1938, he left rural Kentucky to go to art school in Kansas City and Atlanta, then moved to New York at the end of the 1960s. A decade later, appalled by the commercial art world, he turned his back on the city and moved back South. Today he lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which seems about right for an artist of his bent. Read the rest of this entry »

Frances Stark

Marc Foxx, Los Angeles

Stark06_fs_2014_from_therealstarkiller_429

About three years ago, something unexpected happened in Frances Stark’s art. After two decades of making work about herself––about her anxieties and obsessions, her identity crises and motivational struggles––she started making work about other people. Stranger still, her subjects became, in most instances, young men of color.  Read the rest of this entry »

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