Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Category: Art Review

Man Ray’s LA

Gagosian Beverly Hills

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Man Ray, Igor Stravinsky with Juliet and Selma Browner, 1945, Vintage gelatin silver print, 9 15/16 × 7 3/4 inches © Man Ray Trust/ADAGP 2018

There he is, in the corner of the room: a dark, malevolent presence, glowering at the camera from under heavy lids, his crazily crooked nose and uneven eyes lending the photograph a quasi-Cubist appearance. It was an intense look that Man Ray often assumed in self-portraits. (An alternative guise was that of the debonair dandy, smoking in sharply tailored suits beside a sporty automobile.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Caroline Walker

Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles

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Caroline Walker, Fishing, 2017, Oil on linen, 250 x 200 cm

How much can we find it within ourselves to feel sorry for a beautiful middle-aged white woman who lives in a stylish modernist house surrounded by high walls of tropical foliage with heart-stopping views over the endless gridded expanse of Los Angeles? How about when she floats in her aquamarine pool, one outstretched hand trailing in the water, while her hunky pool boy skims leaves and bugs from the surface nearby? Read the rest of this entry »

Puppies Puppies

Overduin & Co., Los Angeles

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It is, on the face of it, not an auspicious premise for an exhibition. The ruse of an artist living in the gallery, as art, has been done and done again over the past half century, whether by Chris Burden in Bed Piece (1972) or Marina Abramović in The House with the Ocean View (2002), or by Dawn Kasper at the 2012 iteration of the Whitney Biennial. Not to mention various installations in which only the artist’s domestic furnishings were present, from Lucas Samaras’s Bedroom (1964) to Tracey Emin’s My Bed (1998). Now add to the list Green Ghosts (2017), a performance by Puppies Puppies in which she, her husband and their dog sleep at Overduin & Co outside of gallery hours, having transported the contents of their apartment into the white cube. And yet Puppies Puppies’ smart exhibition feels anything but derivative. Read the rest of this entry »

Zarouhie Abdalian

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Where lies the distinction between the words ‘touch’ and ‘hit’? If you’re thinking that the difference is a question of impact, doesn’t it depend on the materials involved? Touching a butterfly’s wing with your finger is more damaging than hitting an elephant’s hide with your hand, for example. Are tactility and physical harm just two ends of a sliding sensorial scale? Read the rest of this entry »

Mark Bradford

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Mark Bradford, Black Venus, 2005, mixed-media collage, 330 × 498 cm. Photo: Jason Dewey. © the artist. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, London & Los Angeles

 

It was a stupid question anyway. Something about having success and opportunity and yet continuing to experiment, still taking risks. Though he has made sculptures, videos and site-specific installations, Mark Bradford was first celebrated, early in his career, for his panoramic, expressively exhausted collage-paintings made from sanded strata of coloured paper, which were almost always understood as reflecting the gritty streetscape of South Central Los Angeles. A long Los Angeles Times profile from 2006, a decade after he graduated from art school, describes him as a ‘hometown boy made good on the international art scene’. His first solo show at a major commercial gallery was in 2001, at Lombard-Freid Fine Arts, New York, sassily titled I Don’t Think You Ready For This Jelly. Since then his work has climbed in value, shored up by solid institutional support – a professional status reflected this year in his representation of the United States at the Venice Biennale. Read the rest of this entry »

Judith Bernstein

The Box, Los Angeles

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In the Bible, Judith was a beautiful and fearless Israelite widow who saved her besieged people from the army of King Nebuchadnezzar, which was led by the general Holofernes. She prayed to God to make her a good liar, then inveigled her way into the enemy camp where she hacked off Holofernes’s head after he tried to have sex with her. Read the rest of this entry »

Power to the People

 

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Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Pale For The Rapture, 2016, Oil on linen. Diptych: 200 x 120 x 3.7 cm each. Courtesy: Corvi-Mora, London, and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Anyone who informs you that there’s been a recent resurgence of figurative painting – especially the kind of person who says this in relation to portraiture by artists such as Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Aliza Nisenbaum, Jordan Casteel, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Njideka Akunyili Crosby – should be swiftly apprised that portraiture never went away. Throughout recent decades there have been overlapping waves of painters returning to this most traditional of genres. Read the rest of this entry »