Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Category: Uncategorized

Olga Balema

Hannah Hoffman Gallery, Los Angeles

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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 »

Power to the People

 

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Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Pale For The Rapture, 2016, Oil on linen. Diptych: 200 x 120 x 3.7 cm each. Courtesy: Corvi-Mora, London, and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Anyone who informs you that there’s been a recent resurgence of figurative painting – especially the kind of person who says this in relation to portraiture by artists such as Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Aliza Nisenbaum, Jordan Casteel, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Njideka Akunyili Crosby – should be swiftly apprised that portraiture never went away. Throughout recent decades there have been overlapping waves of painters returning to this most traditional of genres. Read the rest of this entry »

Father Figure

Anxieties about modern American manhood played out in the bedrooms of little girls

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Martin Kersels, Tumble Room, 2001, installation, courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes and Nash

“A crock of shit” is how Mike Kelley once described what he called the “modernist cult of the child.”[1] He was talking about the idealization of children – of childhood, rather – over the past two centuries, since Romanticism exalted it as a pure state, uncorrupted by the mores and hang-ups of culture and society. In visual art, this was manifested in the self-consciously childlike styles of Picasso, Miró and Klee, and the later affectation of children’s art by Dubuffet, Jorn, and countless others who, for associated reasons, also fetishized the ‘primitive’ and the ‘insane’. “Where do the children play?” asked Cat Stevens in 1970, testifying to the persistence of that myth of purity even through late ‘60s counterculture, the era of the Flower Children.[2]  Read the rest of this entry »

Theaster Gates

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Study for Pavillion, 2017, Bricks, 16 1/2 x 24 1/4 x 21 1/4 inches. Courtesy Regen Projects

As the January rain washes the windows of Regen Projects in Los Angeles, Theaster Gates, dressed in a blue knee-length kaftan over jeans, is relaxed and buoyant, seemingly unfazed by the pressures of the year ahead. The finishing touches are being made to ‘But to Be a Poor Race’ (14 January–25 February), Gates’ debut exhibition with the gallery. In early March he will open a new body of work, ‘The Minor Arts’, in the recently renovated Tower Gallery of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The following month, in Helsinki, he will headline the IHME Contemporary Art Festival, where he will perform with his improvisational music ensemble, The Black Monks of Mississippi, part of a larger project for IHME that Gates is calling The Black Charismatic. In June, he unveils a new permanent installation for the sculpture garden of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

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Question the Wall Itself

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

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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 »

Terence Koh

Moran Bondaroff, Los Angeles

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Over the decade and a half of his career to date, Terence Koh has generated so many myths that it is now nearly impossible to begin thinking about his work without first acknowledging the tales of his personal and professional decadence in New York during the pre-crash mid-aughts, or the story of his apparent atonement when he faded from hypervisibility following his 2011 show “nothingtoodoo” at Mary Boone, New York, retreating with his partner to a mountaintop in the Catskills. The legend is threadbare from retelling; you’re at a computer—if you don’t already know it, Google him. Better, instead, to start with some facts about Terence Koh in 2017. Read the rest of this entry »

Concrete Islands

Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles

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Irma Blank, Radical Writings, Exercitium, 1988, Acrylic on card, 11 1/8 x 15 inches

 

Writing is full of holes. Holes between the letters, within the letters, between the words and sentences and paragraphs, holes between thoughts and intentions and meaning. Writing is as much not there as it is there. It is a wonder that it holds itself together at all. Much doesn’t. Read the rest of this entry »