Mark Grotjahn, Untitled (Green Butterfly Yellow MG), 2003. Collection of David Teiger. Courtesy of Anton Kern Gallery, New York. Photo: Thomas Müller.
Barry Schwabsky, art critic at The Nation, explores how the work of Mark Grotjahn engages with the development of abstract painting.
Mark Grotjahn makes conceptually grounded paintings that collide abstract and figurative elements to unsettle the conventions of each. By continuously combining the seemingly incompatible poles of abstraction and figuration, realism and expressionism, rational logic and intuitive process, Grotjahn stakes a claim for the continued vitality of both abstraction and painting itself.
In his Perspective and Butterfly paintings, Grotjahn combines varying schemes of one-point perspective—used since the Renaissance to produce the illusion of depth on a flat surface—to create mesmerizing abstractions. By upending the horizon line, the Butterfly paintings float free of perspectival grounding and oscillate between geometric abstraction and spatial illusion. While these works appear at first glance to be rigidly formal and graphic, their surfaces are often layered over underpaintings, which create tonal shifts and textured surfaces that reveal the process of their own making.
In a more recent body of Face paintings, Grotjahn builds up complexly layered surfaces on sheets of primed cardboard mounted on linen. The basic elements of painting—line, color, and texture—are gradually worked into these penetrating images.
Grotjahn's mask sculptures extend the artist's idiosyncratic investment in the process and ritual of painting into three dimensions. Five of these masks are on view in Aspen Snowmass: one on the grounds of the museum and the others, one each, on the four ski mountains. The five sculptures are also featured on this season's Grotjahn-designed, limited-edition lift tickets. The Aspen Art Museum's exhibition is the artist's first comprehensive museum survey in the United States, including work Grotjahn has produced from the late 1990s to the present.
Mark Grotjahn was born in 1968 in Pasadena, California, and lives and works in Los Angeles. He has had one-person exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland; and the Portland Art Museum, Oregon. His work has been included in major group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Museum of Modern Art, New York, among other international venues. Grotjahn was included in the 54th Carnegie International in 2004 and the Whitney Biennial in 2006. His work is included in numerous public collections, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Walker Art Center; Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Aspen Art Museum 17.02.2012 - 29.04.2012
Website & source : Aspen Art Museum
Website : Aspen
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