Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Category: Uncategorized

Puppies Puppies

Overduin & Co., Los Angeles

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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 »

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A Little Learning

Sometimes, if I get gloomy about the (ir)relevance of criticism to the wider world, I turn (or click) to the restaurant review pages. Last autumn, I caught KCRW radio host Evan Kleiman interviewing LA Weekly’s outgoing food critic, Besha Rodell – one of the city’s best critics (in any field, period). Rodell was responding to a double-barrelled question, relating to a conflagration she’d recently been tangled in over Los Angeles critics’ misunderstanding of Mexican food, about whether the food media was too white and whether she would like to see a person of colour replace her. Yes and yes, came Rodell’s unhesitating reply. Read the rest of this entry »

Ricky Swallow and Lesley Vance

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Lesley Vance, Untitled, 2016, oil on linen, 29 x 22 x 1 inches, Courtesy David Kordansky Gallery

Step out the door of Ricky Swallow and Lesley Vance’s new studio in Burbank, California, and you come face to face with the largest Ikea store in the United States. The blue and yellow behemoth was not there in October 2015, when the artists bought the former green screen manufacturing facility, but today, as they finish the renovation of the building and begin to unpack boxes of tools, materials and artworks, the store has been drawing crowds of shoppers since February. 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 »

Jonas Wood

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Jungle Kitchen, 2017. Photo by Brian Forrest; courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky gallery.

 

In the art world I thought I knew, no one would publicly admit to an interest in golf, least of all a young painter who was just making his name. But that is exactly what Jonas Wood did, a decade ago, when he made a painting of the golf course in Glendale where he was learning to play. Now, 10 years later, he is revisiting the subject in his latest show at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, which will take over both spaces (and viewing room) of the imposing gallery in November. It does not matter to Wood that the subject of these paintings is the squarest, most buttoned-up, bourgeois weekend pastime going. Read the rest of this entry »

Jimmie Durham

Elements from the Actual World

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Malinche, 1988–92, guava, pine branches, oak, snakeskin, polyester bra soaked in acrylic resin and painted gold, watercolor, cactus leaf, canvas, cotton cloth, metal, rope, feathers, plastic jewelry, glass eye, 70 by 23⅝ by 35 inches. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent. Photo Dirk Pauwels.

Hello! I’m Jimmie Durham. I want to explain a few basic things about myself: in 1986 I was 46 years old. As an artist I am confused about many things, but basically my health is good and I am willing and able to do a wide variety of jobs. I am actively seeking employment.1

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Dear Martín Ramírez,

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Untitled (Train and Tunnel), c. 1960–63 Gouache, colored pencil, and graphite on pieced paper, 13 × 32 ½ in. Collection of Mary Lee Copp and Peter Formanek. Copyright: Estate of Martín Ramírez/courtesy Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York

We never met – you died before I was born. We would have had little in common anyway, probably, except that we both ended up in California, far from where we were born. I choose to stay here. For you, held against your will in psychiatric hospitals that were no better than prisons, there was no choice. Read the rest of this entry »