Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Category: CARLA

Dilexi

Whatever Gets You Through the Night:
The Artists of Dilexi and Wartime Trauma

HWES-0001

H.C. Westermann, March or Die (1966). Pine, redwood, leather, ebony, metal, felt, and ink, 30.75 × 20 × 10.5 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and the Landing. Photo: Joshua White.

 

If you sometimes find life in America in 2019 to be a little too much, imagine living in California in the early 1960s. Since the end of the Second World War—a conflict that, for the United States, superficially led to domestic prosperity—the world had been racked with anxiety over the possibility of atomic apocalypse, while under McCarthyism a new strain of Fascism was spreading on home soil. Then just as progressive causes—including civil rights for African Americans—seemed to be gaining some ground, Kennedy was assassinated for no apparent reason, and for many on the left, all seemed utterly lost. Read the rest of this entry »

Robert Yarber

Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles

0a9d0e3ea5c0044713b1493b5aeabd8a

Robert Yarber, Error’s Conquest, 1987, oil on canvas, 71 x 129.50 in

What I would give for a time machine that could transport me back to Venice, Italy, in the summer of 1984. That year, at the Biennale, an exhibition titled Paradise Lost/Paradise Regained: American Visions of the New Decade had been commissioned for the United States Pavilion by the New Museum’s firebrand director, Marcia Tucker. Along with figurative painters such as Charles Garabedian, Roger Brown, Judith Linhares, and the Reverend Howard Finster, it included a young Oakland- based artist named Robert Yarber, whose nocturnal oil painting of a glowing motel pool and a couple falling past a high-rise window (Double Suicide, 1983) launched him into the public eye.
Read the rest of this entry »

Routine Pleasures

MAK Center, Los Angeles

01 Routine

Manny Farber, Birthplace: Douglas, Ariz. (1979). Oil on board. Image courtesy of the MAK Center and Doug Simay. Photo: Joshua White.

How would you like to be labeled a termite? Or rather, to cite the term that Manny Farber coined in 1962, a “termite artist”? Farber—the San Diego painter and film critic who died in 2008—was writing in the now defunct magazine Film Culture, expanding on his opposing terms “termite art” and “white elephant art.” Read the rest of this entry »

Walk Artisanal

3716 Eagle Rock Boulevard

mastersxfrontx001xRVDx0920xjpg.1800

It’s no secret that the eastside of Los Angeles is gentrifying fast, and that most of us in the contemporary art community wring our hands in weak perplexity over the part that we play in the process. Nevertheless, many residents of Glassell Park were happy to see a new coffee shop open on Eagle Rock Boulevard in early 2015. Yelp reviewers have approved of the “clean and creative atmosphere.” (“Super chill place and the quality of people is very high as well,” wrote Anthony E.) Notwithstanding the “rude” servers, the clientele seems broadly to approve of the new establishment. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »