March 26, 2010

Mark Grotjahn's personal code

 Mark Grotjahn at Blum & Poe, installation view.
Mark Grotjahn, "Untitled (Face R. Stripped 776)," 2008, oil on cardboard mounted on linen, 60-1 /2 x 50-1/4"
Mark Grotjahn, "Untitled (Red Yellow and Blue Face 821)," 2009, oil on cardboard mounted on linen, 95-1/4 x 72-3/4"

In the LA Weekly Christopher Miles reports that the images in Mark Grotjahn's paintings at Blum & Poe are lousy with influences, but the fusion of renaissance space, cubist space, abstract and nonobjective space with surrealist and dadaist space, pop space and visionary-modernist space makes them undeniably his own. "A baker's dozen of paintings — made from oil paint layered up on cardboard that also has been layered up atop stretched linen — assault you with heavily abstracted and sometimes multiplying eyes that combine with line work to overtly borrow from and reminisce about Picasso's own lifting of styles and moves from 'primitive' art. But as Picassoid as they are, Grotjahn's paintings also are reminiscent of work by a number of proto- and early modernists, as well as a host of primitive-by-way-of-Picasso–inspired artists from Klee to Pollock to Basquiat.... Add to this dashes of both expressionist heat and some Warholian cool, and you begin to get a sense of Grotjahn's personal code.

"But what arguably makes these paintings Grotjahn's own is his compelling play of abstract and representational space. I can't help looking at his paintings without thinking of the Dali sequence in Spellbound, and I also can't help drifting into associations with artists like Hannah Hoch or California modernist and Dynaton movement co-founder Lee Mullican. Such associations are a matter less of style or imagery than of envisioning and giving image to different kinds of pictorial space — the space of the unconscious, the space of the spiritual or otherworldly, the space of collage and montage. The results are works that fuse renaissance space, cubist space, abstract and nonobjective space with surrealist and dadaist space, pop space and visionary-modernist space — a fusion that generates the real sense of the uncanny that the imagery only points at."

"Mark Grotjahn: Seven Faces," Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA. Through April 3.

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