Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Category: Mousse

Darren Bader

Blum & Poe, Los Angeles


Darren Bader, ‘character limit’, installation view, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles


How much of Darren Bader’s art do we need in the world? The world, after all, is already full of the kinds of objects that Bader brings into his exhibitions: art, words, images, personalities, ideas. Its very fullness is arguably the condition that Bader’s work both critiques and thrives on. “The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more,” Douglas Huebler famously wrote in 1970. The question of whether Bader is adding more objects to the world depends on whether you consider two existing objects placed together to constitute a new object, or just a reconstitution of what was already there. It also depends on whether you consider a near facsimile of an existing object to be a new object. It depends—crucially—on whether an object can consist of language alone.  Read the rest of this entry »

Jamian Juliano-Villani

"Before Supper", 2013, Acrylic on Canvas, 24"x24"

The riotous, lurid paintings of Jamian Juliano-Villani speak in a language familiar from popular culture, but they articulate things never dreamt even by the most twisted imagination. Aliens having sex, suicidal trousers, and deviant Japanese river imps are just a few of the images that populate her paintings. Despite her work’s irreverent tone, Juliano-Villani is involved in a serious, introspective exploration of her own psyche, of the ethics of appropriation, and of the possibilities for contemporary painting.

We spoke in her Brooklyn studio in May 2014. Read the rest of this entry »

Chadwick Rantanen

What is the significance of the fact that ‘walker balls’ are only available for purchase in the United States? They’re not sold in Canada, not in the UK, not in mainland Europe or Asia. Only in the US do manufacturers of tennis balls diversify by producing differently coloured and pre-cut balls to fit on the end of walkers (known in other countries as mobility aids or Zimmer frames) in order to facilitate their smooth and scratch-free shuffling across polished floors. Is the salient point here about the integration of medical equipment into American homes? The commercialization of geriatric invalidity? The expediency of customized design? Maybe the interesting thing is the way in which an inexpensive, makeshift addition is so quickly repackaged and marketed? Or is it to do with the meagre ways in which US consumers are happy to assert their individuality, be it with pink, blue or zebra-patterned balls on the legs of their walkers? Read the rest of this entry »

Brian Kennon

Spread the Word

Over the past few years, Brian Kennon has emerged as one of the most active and generous participants in the Los Angeles art scene. Aside from his practice as an artist, which regularly involves collaboration or appropriation of other artists’ work (many of them his friends or mentors), he single-handedly runs 2nd Cannons Publications, an independent publishing house that produces a wide range of artists’ books and editions. In 2008, 2nd Cannons opened a project space, a glass-fronted vitrine in Los Angeles’ Chinatown; the current exhibition, by The Institute of Social Hypocrisy, will be its last. Kennon’s work as an artist has taken the form of prints and publications, and his latest exhibition, ‘Documents Remain’, will be at BQ, Berlin, until 25th February 2011.

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Fluid Nature

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Los Angeles is a city that prefers to be pictured than encountered face to face. Its streets are a ceaseless Babel of disagreeing voices and signs, but, seen from any of the hills that overlook the expansive valley basin, its disparate neighbourhoods knit together into an intricate blanket, still and quiet. Particularly at night, this panorama confirms diverse L.A. archetypes: the technological Sublime, the suburban sprawl, or the majestic, multi-ethnic metropolis. Even the ocean, which laps the city’s southwest edge, is itself a picture – a dry backdrop that, with the aid of a setting sun and some silhouetted palm trees, instantly flattens into a postcard or a t-shirt. Few ever venture onto the water in order to look back at the land.

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Group Material

Arroz con Mango (What a Mess)

Frustrated by what they saw as the conservatism of the flourishing art market at the start of the 1980s, a group of New York artists chose to work collaboratively on projects ‘dedicated to social communication and political change’. Despite numerous arguments, resignations and changes of direction over their 16-year history, Group Material made a body of work that continues to be influential and inspirational for a younger generation of artists and curators.

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