Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Aaron Garber-Maikovska

Greene Exhibitions, Los Angeles

AGM_5

When I was a kid, big-box department stores were exciting beyond words. There were so many places to hide–dark spaces under garment racks, slim gaps behind curtain displays, voids behind stacked boxes–that I would have happily played inside all day. I used to fantasize about getting locked in at night, hiding from security guards (it would have been easy) and then tearing around alone, bouncing on mattresses and skidding across polished floors, or making a den in the sporting goods section.  Read the rest of this entry »

SOGTFO

François Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles

rossho_untitledsculptureonceugoblack_2015_web

First —just to get this out of the way—it feels so good to be writing about an exhibition of big sculptures in a big gallery made by five women. When was the last time that happened? Read the rest of this entry »

Fiona Connor

1301PE, Los Angeles

Fiona-Connor_069

Probably the least interesting thing to say about Fiona Connor’s simulacra of community noticeboards, remade from originals encountered by the artist in and around Los Angeles, is that they function as surrogate paintings. But it’s unavoidable, so we might as well get it out of the way. Read the rest of this entry »

Mernet Larsen

Various Small Fires, Los Angeles

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What’s the most grindingly dull subject you can think of for a painting? How about a college faculty meeting? 75-year old Mernet Larsen, of Tampa, Florida, has made a whole series of paintings depicting meetings at the art school where she still teaches. Two of them are included in her exhibition Chainsawer, Bicyclist and Reading in Bed, and boring they are not. Read the rest of this entry »

Joan Brown

Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco

Brown_Year of the tiger_JJ

In 1957, at the age of 18, Joan Brown had her first exhibition of paintings in San Francisco’s 6 Gallery, where two years previously Allen Ginsberg had first given a reading of his poem Howl (1955). It was the advent of the Beat movement, and Brown came of age at its epicentre. Despite her remarkably swift success, she distanced herself from her early expressionist technique the following decade, tackling her subsequent paintings with a renewed degree of finesse and control. As this bifurcated exhibition of works from the mid-1970s and early 1980s makes plain, Brown reinvented herself throughout her career. Read the rest of this entry »

Eric Wesley

356 S. Mission Road, Los AngelesWesley_I_Beam_U_Channel-cmyk

Ironically, perhaps, for such a wayward, unpredictable and contrarian artist, Eric Wesley has a fondness for numbers and systems. ‘Some Work’, his sardonically titled quasi-retrospective at 356 S. Mission Road, was arranged around a neat numeric structure. A map, printed on the back of the invitation card in lieu of a press release, provided a key. Read the rest of this entry »

Alma Allen

Blum and Poe, Los Angeles

AlmaAllen

An artist like Alma Allen causes certain categorical predicaments for those who try to write about the extraordinary objects he has been quietly making for over two decades. He is a self-taught artist who is far from Outsider, a craftsman who makes furniture as well as functionless objects, an artist who in 2013 was plying his trade at the Echo Park Craft Fair and in 2014 was lauded as a highlight of the Whitney Biennial, and a private figure whose troubled backstory adds gravitas to his outwardly quixotic creations. Read the rest of this entry »

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