Mark Grotjahn: DrawingsBy Libby Lumpkin
When considering Mark Grotjahn's distinctively expressive and mysteriously compelling uses of abstraction, standard rules do not apply. The seven drawings created for his exhibition at the Hammer Museum clearly demonstrate the artist's fluency in various dialects of the common abstract language, resonating with Constructivist and Minimalist tones and with a few refrains in less analytical abstract traditions. Searching for systematic principles with which to anchor Grotjahn's abstractions, however, is not particularly rewarding. Of the variable types of logic that underlie most abstract designs, whether traditional or trendyâ€”aesthetic, symbol, metaphor, rhythm, presence, emotion, religion, digital generation, statistical data, and suchâ€”none quite fits.
Note the artist's densely applied pencil marks, which render the planar segments solidly opaque. Given the provocative dissonance between expressive "matter" and analytical 'mind," these marks compete with the linear configurations to be the key signifying element. One imagines the artist bearing down on the pencil with earnest, concentrated focus, as if in answer to some urgent necessity. The impasto-like "weightiness" of the marks suggest that that urgent necessity might be to establish a dialogue with the early, objectlike paintings of Jasper Johns and Frank Stella, or possibly with Richard Serraâ€™s expressively "weighty" monochrome drawings.
But the tedious, almost quixotic nature of the endeavorâ€”forcing a dense impasto from delicate color pencilsâ€”leads one to suspect that the motivation originates not in the common culture, but in a more holistic domain that includes lived experience: as a schoolboy, Grotjahn was rewarded for achievements with poker chips meant to be 'cashed in" for prizes. The prizes he most often selected were coloring books featuring abstract, mazelike designs, the pages of which the young artist no doubt carefully burnished with a thick impasto of Crayola. Read the entire article hereSource:
Mark grotjahn: anton kernBy Johanna Burton
Mark Grotjahn's latest works--a series of variously sized jewel-like monochrome canvases that toy with one-point perspective--are flat-out gorgeous. This should be said right off, since discussions of Grotjahn's work tend to leap quickly into speculation on what lurks (literally and figuratively) behind their surfaces.If there's a plumb line harming through this young artist's oeuvre, it's a love for and deft utilization of the opaque.
But Grotjahn's taste for the impermeable is hardly delivered straight from the shoulder; a perverse formalism is his delicious decoy, both an homage to and usurpation of (by now amply deconstructed) modernist tactics.
No surprise, then, that Grotjahn has been discussed in terms of a handful of otherwise incommensurable artists (Andy Warhol, Alfred Jensen) and styles (Cubist, Color Field).
A self-proclaimed appropriationist, Grotjahn absorbs and then contorts discrete breeds of modern representation culled from sources high and low--ultimately performing a roguish redistribution rather than a "deconstruction." In the mid-'90s, for instance, the Los Angeles-based artist painstakingly copied hand-and stencil-lettered signs he came across in his favorite bodegas and burrito joints (NO I.D. NO BEER is but one laconic specimen). Read the entire article hereSource: