March 5, 2014

Loren Munk's world view

We are all in the process of spinning invisible webs, tied together by geography, ideas, cyber connections, and imagery. In "You Are Here," Loren Munk again presents a thought-provoking group of intricate map paintings that illuminate an intimate yet sweeping inter-generational New York art world. Munk's spirited and inevitably subjective work reinforces the notion that we each have a unique point of view and that we all understand and organize facts differently. Artists who have lived in the neighborhoods Munk depicts or participated in the movements he chronicles can't help but look for names of other artists, seeing who makes the cut and who doesn't.

For anyone who has been around the block, studying Munk's paintings of, say, Bushwick (in a previous show) and Williamsburg, densely packed with hundreds of names and clotted connecting lines, redounds to a somber meditation on how history is made. In resolute candor, he makes us remember all the people who have left, and all the once-promising ideas that have faded. Yet the sheer multiplicity of names and Munk's unflagging effort to record them, both in paintings and his ongoing project The James Kalm Report, reflect a perspective on his part that may be different from my own, but it's more inclusive than exclusive.

So--in his bright colors, insouciant misspellings, and loopy compositions--there is a more uplifting and democratic message: that the under-recognized players, tireless and committed, are more vital to a dynamic art community than the outright winners are; they keep its pulse going. In this regard, "You Are Here" resonates poignantly with the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, which likewise celebrates the mordant unsung anti-heroes more than the world beaters.

"Loren Munk: You Are Here," Freight & Volume, Chelsea, New York, NY. Through March 15, 2014.

Related posts:
 A Loren Munk report (2010)
Loren Munk at Weinberg in LA(2010)
Loren Munk: Geographer of the NYC art scene (2009)


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