December 17, 2008

Saul, Brown, and Shaw: Invoking creative craftsmanship over formulaic novelty

In LA Weekly, Doug Harvey reports that curating isn’t always as easy as it looks. "It’s rare to find a group of concurrent solo projects that genuinely complement one another — just because two artists happen to use images of trees or refer to cartography or have Photoshop doesn’t necessarily mean their work will have anything more than a superficial verbal resemblance. Museums regularly stumble over this sort of literalism in spite of their long-term scheduling and art-historical resources, and commercial gallerists — with their relatively fast turnover and propensity for attention-grabbing sound bites — are particularly prone. Which is why, when a triple whammy like the current lineup at Patrick Painter crops up, it’s worth looking a little deeper. On the surface, Jim Shaw, Peter Saul and Glenn Brown seem like an almost arbitrary selection from the gallery’s stable — artists from three distinct generations, two of whom work at opposite ends of the U.S., while the third hails from another continent altogether. L.A.-based Shaw works promiscuously across the media spectrum, from highly rendered figuration to abstract video, while recently ensconced Manhattanite Saul is strictly a painter’s painter. Londoner Brown is also an old-school painter as far as materials go, but his near-obsessive appropriationism (which landed him in legal hot water with one of the science-fiction illustrators from whom he cribbed) lies at the opposite pole from Saul’s seething pop expressionism.

"The relentless nudging open of the parameters of prejudice in the human visual realm is the common thread that connects Saul, Shaw and Brown — though the concept is too corny for words. As Modernism invoked the power of creative novelty over formulaic craftsmanship, so these artists — and so many others — invoke creative craftsmanship over formulaic novelty, not because it corrects the balance of the art-historical moment, and not because it deprivileges the intellectual faculty in favor of the other, disparaged senses — but simply because it’s the wrong thing to do. " Read more.

"Peter Saul: Five New Pictures," and "Glenn Brown: Editions and A Unique Sculpture," Patrick Painter Inc., Santa Monica, CA. Through Jan. 10.
"Jim Shaw: Extraordinary Rendition," Patrick Painter Inc., Los Angeles, CA Through Jan. 10.

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