Posts Tagged ‘Roberta Smith’

Jungle Feeler

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Long lines to see at Mark Grotjahn’s Nine Faces at Anton Kern Gallery.  They are lines but they aren’t “lined.”  Rather than ruling an edge or tracing an arc, Mark Grotjahn strings along atomic, individual kisses from the brush. The punctual daub, the incipient line.  Each line, like a bow or branch mingles with others until forming a thicket.  Thickets group into a bramble.

The line widths, parallel tendencies, and tubular volume could derive from the corrugated cardboard beneath them.  But what about the emergent faces, from which Grotjahn supposedly derives his paintings?  Perhaps the process is to reconcile the ribbed plane of the cardboard ground with the transverse arcs of the face.  Ten-line highway meets frog.  Grotjahn’s lines are fortified with overlapping segments of impasto paint.  Where the brush pulled away from the surface, the paint rises in low relief with tantalizing, glistening rivulets, each delicious like an oiled Brazilian rockclimber blowing kisses from the granite cliff he climbs.  Over and over again, from edge to edge.

MG, "Untitled (Lotus Paul Signac Face 41.31)," 2010 (detail)

Halved, Ohm

“The radiating, ricocheting lines never submit; the flaring planes never emerge,” writes Roberta Smith on Mark Grotjahn’s Nine Faces.  Irresistible force meets immovable object.  “The faces hold their own, if just barely, to affirm in staunchly contemporary terms the human presence behind all art.”

Mindy Shapero, "almost every color and silver leaf ghosthead guide that will bring you to the ghosthead god, you can only visualize the guide when you have entered a monsterhead, and you first have to be serene enough to be able to even see the monsterheads before you can wear one.," 2006

Like narrating a nature documentary, she’s poetically, rightfully comparing to interspecies struggle – overwhelming predators versus resistant prey – the formal trials underway in Mark Grotjahn’s larger-than-life-sized, oil on cardboard on linen paintings.

"Untitled (Geo Abstract Reveal Face 41.61)," 2011

It doesn’t end with self-indicating dots and dashes, but it also doesn’t continue toward connecting the dots and dashes into conclusive images.  Microscopically parsing his fundamental markmaking, she plants Grotjahn in the Abstraction Jungle, but gazing, perhaps condescendingly, at Figuration City.

detail

She’s also describing Mark Grotjahn’s straddling stance between modernism and the art of today. He is beyond subjective markmaking but short of the framework unto objective imagery – or back from it.

"Untitled (Lotus Paul Signac Face 41.31)," 2010

-The perplexing state that he is in; her puzzling writing on the wall.  First, how can one be staunch while still being contemporary?  “Staunch” is the folded forearms of modernism, the tight lips of rigid history.   And doesn’t this look like painting you might have found 60 years ago hanging in carpeted galleries on the Upper East Side?

Faceless: Philip Guston's "Painting", 1954

But if it is staunchly contemporary, than what is it staunch against?  “Staunchly” invokes refusal, steadfastness, Ironclad.  What does the Contemporary refuse?  Maybe the facelessness of abstract expressionism, where a lot of individualism went into the work, but a lot of monolithic masks were the closest we got to faces?  Maybe the adventitiously illustrative digressions of the academic masters before that?  Then, how would the Contemporary feel about surrealist and AbEx face-friendlies like Miró, or facebreakers like Picasso?

Page 32, Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud

Half Dome Harry, by me

Grotjahn turns his back on the signifying nothing of “pure” abstraction and the gratuitous striptease of imagery and its overpopulation.  He’s back in the jungle, but he remembers the city.

Henri Rousseau, "Two Monkeys in the Jungle," 1909

Les Edwards, album artwork for The Prodigy - "Music for the Jilted Generation" LP, 1994

Use Yr KOHllusion

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Koh intern and vamp, Val
Koh intern and vamp, Val

If I were a member, I’d be livid,” whispered one super fierce publishing figure last night at the National Arts Club, referring to the dinner jacket-clad grown-ups who weren’t there for the Terence Koh lecture, who might have felt uncomfortably bumrushed by the scores of the artist’s ab fab fans, friends, a-KOH-lytes, and KOH-konspirators.

Garrick Gott and event organizer Stacey Engam
Garrick Gott and event organizer Stacy Engman, NAC Chair of Contemporary Art

To appease the outnumbered, but patient and actually very welcoming real NAC members, and to satiate the hungry, anxious club visitors, refreshments were abundant, including exotic absinthe spritzers, chocolate covered ants, port wine cheese spread, and Campbell’s soup with straws.

Who was there? Who wasn’t?

NAC President Arlene S. Hamsun introduces Terence Koh
NAC President Arlene S. Hamsun introduces Terence Koh

Marina Abramovic, Klaus Biesenbach, Phil and Shelley Aarons, Jerry Saltz, Roberta Smith, Cecilia Dean, Adam McEwen, Jeffrey Deitch, Mary Boone (happy belated birthday, still sexy at 58), RoseLee Goldberg, Kathy Grayson, Sophia Lamar…

…and lots of fashion people I can identify only by their looks.

W.W.W.D.?
W.W.W.D.?

The patrician, oil-on-canvas dinner jacket set would have been pleased.

Armchair historians
Armchair historians

At 45 minutes, with nearly 400 images handpicked from local libraries and the artist’s bookshelves, individually scanned to ensure the highest quality, Terence Koh’s Art History 1642-2009 was a whirlwind tour of Western and Eastern Art, mostly chronological from 1642 to the present, and admitting into the Koh canon a few book covers, party photos, vintage porn, and even some line graph charts to diagram art market confidence.

Autumnal Degas moment at the NAC
Autumnal Degas moment at the NAC

Who was in it?  Who made the Terence Koh Canon?

KOHlympia
KOHlympia

Marcel Duchamp, Vermeer, Velasquez, Warhol, Koons, Aurel Schmidt, Adam McEwen, Marina Abramovic, David Shrigley, Goya, Rembrandt, Judd, Bourgeois, Wojnarowicz, William Blake, Hockney, Rob Pruitt, Kelley Walker, Dash Snow, Bruce High Quality Foundation, Karen Black/Kembra Pfahler, Christian Holstad;

Maurizio Cattelan, Aaron Bondaroff, Muntean/Rosenblum, Yoko Ono, Bianca Jagger, Nauman, Robert Smithson, Yayoi Kusama, James Lee Byars, Girodet, Chardin, Flavin, Jenny Saville, Damien Hirst, Julian Schnabel, Murakami, Zhang Huan, General Idea, Dan Colen – not in that order (no McGinley? no AVAF?) – and that’s just a fraction of art history according to Terence Koh – which is more expansive than the Eurocentric humanities courses I took in college.

RIP Jeanne-Claude, Long live Bruce High Quality
RIP Jeanne-Claude, Long live Bruce High Quality

Koh spoke his own private ida-Koh language, which sounds something like Proto-Indo-Cabbie, though I heard someone ask Terence if it was Swedish.

Tonight at NAC
Tonight at NAC

He barely stopped to breathe, only taking breaks to sip from his glass of vodka.  He frequently strided away from his lectern to gesticulate and indicate details of the projected images.

A few times, he ranted at a rapid-fire clip, sounded like a Sotheby’s auctioneer, notably while discussing the Jeff Koons chrome bunny, which at the scale of the projection, looked like a anthropomorphic Sputnik.

RIP Dash Snow
RIP Dash Snow

Terence shouted and waved his arms indignantly while covering pictures of Hitler looking at artwork, and in the more emotive moments, slowed and spoke solemnly, especially when Dash Snow appeared, and when he displayed AA Bronson’s heartbreaking AIDS revelation, Felix, which is, for me, one of the most moving images of contemporary art since I first saw it in the 2002 Whitney Biennial.

Long live AA Bronson
Long live AA Bronson

In these heavyhearted moments, Terence sounded plantive and morose, though somehow resisted tears.  His lecture was politically charged, addressing, for example, 20th Century China and the Reagan administration’s delusional failure to intervene during the incipient AIDS epidemic.

Ups and Downs
Ups and Downs

And although nobody but Terence understood his words, he still said a lot, contextualizing himself and refreshingly reminding us that ultimately, art is remembered for being seen, and all that matters is how it looks!

Shrigley vs. Seymour (vs. Brant)
Shrigley vs. Seymour (vs. Brant)

Is this the new Terence Koh, post market crash, post Snow?  Still cheeky, but more substantial, orchestrated, polychrome, narrative, and profound?  Let’s find out at his “secret” performance tomorrow evening at Tompkins Square Park.

Ike-Koh (gesundheit!)
Ike-Koh (gesundheit!)

Oh, and rumor reveals a potential Terence Koh/Lady Gaga collaboration! DisKOH Stick!

Of translucent and – have my and use, viagra generic know I a in ever really my yet dry?