Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Category: Review

Yoshua Okón

François Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles

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Yoshua Okón, Oracle, 2015, courtesy François Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles

Despite the dismaying evidence of recent political discourse in the US, it is still hard to believe that people like this actually exist. In Yoshua Okón’s two-channel video installation Oracle (all works 2015), we are bouncing across the Arizona desert in a pickup truck with a portly man who looks a little like George H.W. Bush, and who interrupts his own demented diatribe about the consequences of messing with him with random bursts of one-handed automatic rifle fire, blindly out of the window. “Yeeee-haw!” he whoops. Read the rest of this entry »

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Grandfather: A Pioneer Like Us

Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

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Installation view of Grandfather: A Pioneer Like Us (1974) Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, February 4–April 22, 2018 Photo: Brian Forrest

In 1972, Carl Andre wrote a note to Harald Szeemann in response to the Swiss curator’s invitation to participate in documenta 5. ‘DO YOU HAVE AN ART SECTION?’ asked the irascible artist. As it turned out, the sarcastic enquiry was not entirely unfounded. Szeemann’s radical curatorial mission, developed in documenta 5 and pursued over the next three decades of his career, was to pollute the category of art history with artefacts from the entire field of visual culture, and to subordinate the static art object to a more fluid representation of a creative individual’s interior world. At documenta 5, there were areas featuring political propaganda, the art of the mentally ill, advertising, and science fiction. (A proposed pornography section was cancelled.) Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Los Angeles Gallery Share

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D’Ette Nogle, Wardrobe Selections for Gallery (2013–2018), 2018, at Hannah Hoffman Gallery

At least Condo, in London and New York (and soon also Mexico City and São Paulo), and Okey-Dokey, in Düsseldorf and Cologne, had snappy names and branding. The latest manifestation of the increasingly popular gallery share model, hosted by three Los Angeles galleries, does not have a name. Its program, in which eight international galleries and one peripatetic “off-space” have descended on Hannah Hoffman Gallery, Kristina Kite Gallery, and Park View/Paul Soto for the month of March, seems to have evolved very organically. One might even call it ad hoc. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Robert Colescott

Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

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Robert Colescott, Portrait of the Artist at 85, 1978, Acrylic on canvas, 83 7/8 x 65 3/4 x 1 5/8 inches. Courtesy of Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

The last work in Robert Colescott’s exhibition at Blum & Poe is a drawing that, for me, comes close to unlocking the entire show. In it, God – a long-haired, bearded white man – flanked in his throne by two jackbooted, fascistic angels, directs Martin Luther King (identifiable by the gunshot wound in his chest, and also a helpful label) towards hell, where a black-skinned Lucifer, grinning grotesquely, beckons him down. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Stories of Almost Everyone’

Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

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Kapwani Kiwanga, Flowers for Africa, 2014. Installation view, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Photo: Joshua White.

In 1997, artist and scholar Rhonda Roland Shearer published a paper alleging that each and every one of Marcel Duchamp’s readymades was in fact meticulously handmade: in other words, a fake. Though the idea of Duchamp perpetrating such an elaborate (and quintessentially Duchampian) hoax is an appealing one, Shearer’s theory gained little traction within the academic community. (‘If she’s right,’ sniffed Arthur Danto, ‘I have no interest in Duchamp.’) It came to my mind, again, in ‘Stories of Almost Everyone’, organized by Hammer Museum curator Aram Moshayedi, which elaborates not so much on the subject of craft but of craftiness, and on the integral untrustworthiness of the readymade as an artistic form. Read the rest of this entry »