Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

William Pope.L

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles

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The sheer physics involved in keeping something like this off the ground are staggering. The flag is nearly five metres high by 14 metres long, and weighs God knows how much in polyester and reinforced stitching. It should be noted that, in American flag terms, William Pope.L’  s Trinket (2008/2015) is not an XXL or even an XL but, in the warehouse galleries of the MOCA Geffen, where it flies only a couple of metres off the ground and reaches nearly to the ceiling, it feels colossal. Four thundering Ritter fans, their blades as tall as a man, keep it perpetually roiling in the air. Read the rest of this entry »

Pedro Reyes

The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

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Cynical commentators often point out that politically activist or socially-engaged art isn’t going to save the world. The position has become something of a truism, even among proponents of the genre. The question, these days, is just what can art achieve? Read the rest of this entry »

Aaron Garber-Maikovska

Greene Exhibitions, Los Angeles

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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

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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

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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

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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 »

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