In images of his retrospective at the Orange County Museum, Los Angeles artist Richard Jackson (b. 1939) looks like a pretty frisky, indefatigable painter, inspired by icons of art history from Jacques-Louis David and Edgar Degas to Conceptual artists like Sol LeWitt and Bruce Nauman. Puns and one-liners abound in a sprawling exhibition comprising ambitious work from the past forty years.
In the LA Times, Christopher Knight tries to recount all the ways Jackson uses paint. "Thick, brightly colored paint oozes like mortar from between thousands of canvases stacked like bricks into a kind of room-size temple, and it's smeared in rainbows that unfurl across white walls. It's shot from a pellet gun at a big drawing and out of the rear ends of carousel animals toward spinning canvases and sculptures on surrounding walls. Paint is pumped through neon tubing that spells out the show's title, clogging illumination, and into a bathtub copied from one where a hero of the French Revolution was ignominiously murdered. It has dripped from glass models of human heads, oozed from squashed metal models of a ballerina and spewed from a hose wielded by a sculpture of a reclining nude glimpsed, voyeur-like, through the crack in a barely opened window. It puddles on pedestals and the floor....This is the only museum exhibition I've seen that posts a sign at the entry warning visitors not to touch the art for the specific reason that the paint might not be dry."
Edgar Degas's ballerina meets CSI.
"When you take part in an activity or are involved in a process, something can go wrong, and that's when it gets interesting," Jackson said after his 1988 retrospective at the Menil Collection in Houston. "It's not interesting if everything is going well."
Yes, I have to agree. The best stories are about things gone wrong.
"Richard Jackson: Ain’t Painting a Pain," curated by Dennis Szakacs. Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA. Through May5, 2013. Traveling to Museum Villa Stûck in Münich,
July 25–October 13, 2013; and S.M.A.K. Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent, Belgium,
February 28–June 29 2014. A 350-page, full-color catalogue with essays by Dennis Szakacs, John C. Welchman, Michael Darling, Jeffrey Weiss, and Hans Ulrich Obristis available.
For readers in LA on March 21:
Third Thursday: Hard Work, Richard Jackson, and the Artistic Process
6–8 pm: Free with paid admission
Public tour of Richard Jackson's Deer Beer (1998) followed by panel discussion at 7 pm with
artist Richard Jackson, curator Paul Schimmel, catalog essayist John Welchman, and UCLA art historian George Baker. Discussion to encompass how post-studio practices have changed the way artists make work, the idea of self-reliance, and the way artists maintain control over their practice.
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