Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Category: Frieze

Jim Shaw

Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles

jim_shaw_wig_museum_5.18.17_1

Jim Shaw, ‘The Wig Museum’, Installation view at Marciano Art Foundation, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Marciano Art Foundation. Photograph by Robert Wedemeyer

At the dark heart of Jim Shaw’s ‘The Wig Museum’ – an exhibition presented in a former Masonic Temple repurposed by brothers Maurice and Paul Marciano for their private art foundation, and incorporating myriad improbable Masonic artefacts salvaged directly from the bowels of the building – is a story about male ambition, authority, secrecy and repression. The narrative unfurls across a series of found drawings: coursework from ‘The Famous Artist’s Correspondence Course’, which Shaw discovered among his father’s belongings after he died. In red crayon on tracing paper overlays, instructors opine on Shaw Sr.’s drawings of animals, faces and women (lots of women). ‘Heads need to be longer, prettier,’ says one. Typewritten letters, dated 1955 to 1957, critique – in detail – the artist’s technical weaknesses. Apparently, Mark Shaw never gave up his day job doing package design for Dow Chemical. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Chadwick Rantanen

Team Bungalow, Los Angeles

Team-2017-03-09_031_675_450

Chadwick Rantanen, Deer Rear, 2017, installation view Team Bungalow, Los Angeles

The pall of death hangs over Chadwick Rantanen’s exhibition ‘Alarmer’. This is ironic because many of the constituent objects in his assemblage sculptures are expressly designed to simulate life. Battery-operated hunting decoys flap their wings and wag their tails in order to attract animals that are living (though soon to be dead). Read the rest of this entry »

Jason Rhoades

Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles

dywyMjQwO2gsMTI2MDtxLDgwO2YsaHdsYS8yMDE3LzAzLzI4LTIwMTcwMjE1X0hXU19SaG9hZGVzLU1NXzA2Ny00ZDMwYmEuanBn

Jason Rhoades, My Madinah. In pursuit of my ermitage…, 2004, Mixed media, Dimensions variable © The Estate of Jason Rhoades Courtesy the estate, Hauser & Wirth and David Zwirner Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Will there come a day when Jason Rhoades’s giant lexicon of euphemisms for female genitalia – typically manifested in coloured neon letters, several inches high, strung throughout his installations – no longer has the power to offend? Will adherents of the Muslim faith one day become so laissez-faire that they no longer mind that, in Rhoades’s installation My Madinah. In pursuit of my ermitage… (2004), these neon words are dangled from the ceiling above a parody of a mosque, with old towels laid out on the floor instead of prayer rugs? Not to mention the sensitivities of Native Americans, who are invited to witness dubiously authentic embroideries and dream-catchers, acquired in bulk as raw material for Rhoades’s The Black Pussy … and the Pagan Idol Workshop (2005) and Tijuanatanjierchandelier (2006), tangled with Moroccan ornaments, Mexican serape blankets and ‘slippery nipple’ mugs, amongst other tourist tat.
Read the rest of this entry »

Olga Balema

Hannah Hoffman Gallery, Los Angeles

olga-balema-install-19_300dpi

Olga Balema, A thing filled with evil streams, 2016, Wood, latex, Magic Sculpt, cell phone motors, batteries, 31x8x7 inches. Courtesy Hannah Hoffman Gallery

I was laughing even before I entered the gallery. Beside the door to Hannah Hoffman, a notice announced the title of Olga Balema’s exhibition: ‘On the Brink of My Sexy Apocalypse’. There was certainly nothing laugh-out-loud funny in the show, but Balema’s work has an electric material intelligence and sense of the unexpected that might be termed, inadequately, wit. Read the rest of this entry »

Question the Wall Itself

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

fullsizeoutput_585f

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 »

Ry Rocklen

headplanter3rr72dpi

Ry Rocklen, Head Planter, 2016, Terracotta, sonotube and paint, 48 x 18 x 18 inches    Courtesy the artist and Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo by Brian Forrest

Humility has been a consistently appealing quality in Ry Rocklen’s work over his decade-long career. Even when it approaches bling – as with his polished bronze cast of a punctured Humvee wheel (Untitled Hummer Flat, 2014) ­– his work is inflected with a down-home wit and a self-deprecating localism. Rocklen, an LA native who also studied in the city, is more entitled than most to call it his muse. The press release for ‘L.A. Relics’, incredibly the artist’s first exhibition in Los Angeles since 2009, curiously notes that his memories of the 1984 LA Olympics were particularly influential on the series that shares the show’s title. Read the rest of this entry »

Tinseltown in the Rain

Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles

tinseltown1

Man Ray once commented that ‘there was more surrealism rampant in Hollywood than all the surrealists could invent in a lifetime’. The line comes to us via William Copley, who, in 1949, exhibited canonical works by Max Ernst, René Magritte, Man Ray and others in a short-lived gallery in Beverly Hills, to almost universal indifference. There were, however, a handful of Los Angeles artists who took notice, including Lorser Feitelson, Helen Lundeberg, Peter Krasnow and Knud Merrild. These artists and many more are brought together by curator Max Maslansky in ‘Tinseltown in the Rain: The Surrealist Diaspora in Los Angeles 1935–69’. Read the rest of this entry »