Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Category: Review

Grandfather: A Pioneer Like Us

Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Szeeman-Install-57-1

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

960b2f281d72cc3516f4a4435a99fbea

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

11

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

20180112_1L6A8743

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

rco44.jpg

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

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 11.44.58 AM

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 »

Puppies Puppies

Overduin & Co., Los Angeles

16

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 »

Dysfunctional Formulas of Love

The Box, Los Angeles"Dysfunctional Formulas of Love", 
Curated with Corazón Del Sol and Víctor Albarracín Llanos, at The Box Gallery, Los Angeles, 18 September, 2017

If your first associations with Colombia are cocaine, paramilitary violence, and the rapacious plunder of natural resources by neo-colonialist corporations, then you are only half right, according to this spirited, unkempt, and organizationally flawed exhibition of Colombian artists at The Box, Los Angeles. Along with all these clichés (eagerly resold to Western audiences through film and television), Colombia is a society of familial warmth and communal resilience, a place where humor, love, and magic play important roles in the survival of its people. Read the rest of this entry »

Primordial Saber Tararear Proverbiales Sílabas Tonificantes Para Sublevar Tecnocracias Pero Seguir Tenazmente Produciendo Sociedades Tántricas – Pedro Salazar Torres (Partido Socialista Trabajador)

Regen Projects, Los Angeles

3e3082845db6a77fafe4ac76e6c23c8c

In the large main gallery at Regen Projects, jam-packed with artworks large and small by 21 artists and pasted from floor to ceiling with colourful reproductions from an illustrated world map, the first thing likely to catch your eye on entering is a belch of orange flame at the back of the room. Indoors, especially, fire is hard to ignore. 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 »