Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Category: Art Review

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

LAXART, Los AngelesRVD_2903_v1_WEB

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 »

Concrete Islands

Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles

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Irma Blank, Radical Writings, Exercitium, 1988, Acrylic on card, 11 1/8 x 15 inches

 

Writing is full of holes. Holes between the letters, within the letters, between the words and sentences and paragraphs, holes between thoughts and intentions and meaning. Writing is as much not there as it is there. It is a wonder that it holds itself together at all. Much doesn’t. 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 »

Benjamin Carlson

Park View, Los Angeles

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What more obvious subject could there be for a painting that deconstructs the mechanics of representation than a still life in front of a window? The window, as a picture within a picture, traditionally stands as a proxy for the painting – the painting’s self-image, as it were – while the still life has for centuries been a convenient armature for everything from allegories of mortality to investigations into optical perception. Read the rest of this entry »

Elaine Cameron-Weir

Venus, Los Angeles

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The 14,500 square-foot former warehouse occupied by Venus, two blocks east of the Los Angeles River, is one of the largest spaces for showing art in the city. For certain artists, it must seem problematically vast. Earlier this year, Marianne Vitale responded to the building’s challenge by filling it with 60 tonnes of railway track and stacks of massive pine posts. The fine sculptures of Elaine Cameron-Weir, however, typically operate at the level of the jeweller’s worktable or the scientist’s lab bench. Her exhibition Snake With Sexual Interest in Own Tail could be read as an essay on the elasticity of our perception of scale. Surprisingly, in this outsize building, it worked. Read the rest of this entry »

Martin Kersels

Redling Fine Art, Los Angeles

Barry-Manilow

Brown furniture, they call it. It’s the stuff that nobody wants: wooden wardrobes, dining tables and armoires, too bulky for the contemporary home, once family heirlooms but now superseded by disposable Ikea furniture. When an artist needs some wood, the source closest at hand is usually not the lumberyard but the thrift store. Read the rest of this entry »