Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Question the Wall Itself

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

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Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Here and There, 1978, installation view, Walker Art Center, 2016

Do not make your way to ‘Question the Wall Itself’, the Walker Art Center’s survey of artists’ work with interior architecture and decor, if you are looking for ideas for new curtains in the back bedroom. The only fabric samples on display belong to the collection of the late Seth Siegelaub, sourced from Oceania and Africa, and are hand-painted on brown barkcloth. On second thought, actually, this is a great place to get ideas for your curtains. Read the rest of this entry »

Terence Koh

Moran Bondaroff, Los Angeles

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Over the decade and a half of his career to date, Terence Koh has generated so many myths that it is now nearly impossible to begin thinking about his work without first acknowledging the tales of his personal and professional decadence in New York during the pre-crash mid-aughts, or the story of his apparent atonement when he faded from hypervisibility following his 2011 show “nothingtoodoo” at Mary Boone, New York, retreating with his partner to a mountaintop in the Catskills. The legend is threadbare from retelling; you’re at a computer—if you don’t already know it, Google him. Better, instead, to start with some facts about Terence Koh in 2017. Read the rest of this entry »

Tamara Henderson

REDCAT, Los Angeles

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Canadian artist Tamara Henderson’s exhibition “Seasons End: Panting [sic] Healer” drew on journeys both geographic and psychic, and had all the dislocating strangeness of a theater wardrobe or prop room. The dense agglomeration of sculptures, installations, fabric tapestries, and paintings (all 2016) was an expansion of Henderson’s presentation earlier this year at the Glasgow International, the work for which she began developing during a residency in Arbroath, Scotland, in 2015. Material for the exhibition was also gathered in Turkey; in the sculpture Seasons End Vehicle, a ramshackle motorcar has stuffed into pockets in its trunk a map of Istanbul, in addition to a leaflet listing tourist attractions near Inverness.  Read the rest of this entry »

Doug Aitken

Underwater Pavilions, Catalina

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A sea lion swims near Doug Aitken’s ‘Underwater Pavilions’ (2016) © Shawn Heinrichs/Parley for the Oceans/MOCA

The waters around the pretty island of Catalina, 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, are colder in December than you might think. Two days after heaving on scuba gear and descending 15 feet to see Los Angeles artist Doug Aitken’s sub-aquatic sculptures, the tips of my fingers were still tingling and numb. What I saw down there, however, stayed with me long after normal feeling returned. Read the rest of this entry »

Betye Saar

Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles

Betye Saar, Museum Het Domein, Sittard, the Netherlands, 2015.

Betye Saar, Pause Here – Spirit Chair, 1996, Mixed media assemblage with metal garden chair and neon, 31.5 x 24.5 x 20.5 in

Betye Saar’s double exhibition at Roberts & Tilton coincides with the opening of her career survey at the Fondazione Prada, Milan. The first exhibition, titled Black White (which opened a month before the second exhibition), is a more concise presentation in the gallery’s project space that arranges assemblage sculptures and collages spanning from the present back to an early etching by the artist – now a nonagenarian – from 1964. Blend, the second and more generously spaced display (actually including fewer works), occupies the main gallery. Its focus is the major mixed media installation Mojotech (1987), which stretches nearly 7.5 metres along one wall and was the outcome of a residency Saar undertook at the List Visual Arts Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge. Read the rest of this entry »

Peter Shire

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Peter Shire, Scorpion, White, 1996-2015 cone 06 clay and two part polyurethane with ceramic primer, and glazed lids with metal detail 12.5 x 21.25 x 8.25 inches

The door of Peter Shire’s first ceramics studio, in Los Angeles, opened directly onto the sidewalk. He moved in three years after graduating from the Chouinard Art Institute, in 1972, and soon discovered that the corner of Echo Park Avenue where his studio was located was also where the members of the local gang – the Echo Park Locos – regularly hung out. Read the rest of this entry »

Kathryn Andrews

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Kathryn Andrews, “Hobo (The Candidates),” 2014. Ink on paper and plexiglas, aluminum, paint, mixed media. 43 3⁄4″ x 37″ x 2 1⁄4″. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Courtesy: the artist and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

 

In Fall 2014, “Donald Trump For President” was less than a whisper on the wind. When, around that time, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, invited Kathryn Andrews to mount an exhibition for November of the following year, she hit upon the idea of using the US presidential election as a thematic narrative to structure a mini-survey of her sculptures, wall works and installations from the past five years. Clowns were to feature prominently. Read the rest of this entry »