ARTIST:

Mark Grotjahn

Mark Grotjahn
Untitled (Green Butterfly), 2002
oil on canvas
122 x 86.3 cm

Drawing influence from both modernist abstraction and pop culture, Mark Grotjahn’s paintings are intimate seductions, slipping between hard-edged design and emotive expression. Using perspective as a skewed logic, Grotjahn’s canvases often incorporate two vanishing points in close proximity; from a doubled ‘centre’ Untitled (Green Butterfly) radiates bands of golden hues, each creating a deception of space. Applied in thick impasto, their sleek forms dissolve into terrains of concentrated brushwork giving an effect of physical solidity. With each triangle drafted in a single opaque layer, the canvas’s texture and traces of under-painting create subtly shifting tones, flirting between the illusive and the concrete.

Mark Grotjahn
Untitled (large coloured butterfly white background 10 wings), 2004
Coloured pencil on paper
177 x 130 cm

Mark Grotjahn
Untitled (Coloured Butterfly White Background Four Wings), 2004
Coloured pencil on paper

Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled exploits the precarious balance between analytical hard-edged abstraction and intuitive mark-making. Rendered in coloured pencil, Grotjahn develops a planar composition of receding bands suspended between sharp angled lines. Giving quirky reference to the flat matte colours of modernist palette, Grotjahn’s perfectly drafted perspective and transluscent Prismacolor shading defy the solidity of the picture plane. Set competitively against the visible smudges and scribbles of drawing process, Grotjahn integrates design precision with visceral spontaneity.

Mark Grotjahn
Untitled (large coloured butterfly white background 10 wings), 2004
coloured pencil on paper
176.8 x 130 cm

Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled evokes a sense of the metaphysical. Set atop an effused abstracted ground, his forms stretch and recede in the convoluted logic of linear perspective. Executed in coloured pencil, the optical illusion of adjoining rainbow-toned lines becomes compounded as a feat of concentration. Each band painstakingly filled by the artist’s hand, Grotjahn’s geometric form is delineated by the embossed traces of his endeavour, imprinting his personal gestures within an emblem of perfection.

Mark Grotjahn
Untitled (White Butterfly Blue MG), 2001
oil on linen
182.9 x 66 cm

Echoing Barnett Newman’s monumental stripes, Mark Grotjahn’s paintings reconstruct the architecture of abstraction on human scale. Set on narrow and elongated canvases, Grotjahn’s Butterfly series renders the sublime as an intimate and attainable pursuit based in concentrated process and palpable surface. In Untitled, tarnished tones radiate in off-kilter perspective, their concrete forms alleviated by the subtle variation of bevelled brush strokes, creating an aura of weightlessness and luminosity. Flanked in the bottom corners by the artist’s stylised initials, Grotjahn frames his painting as vanity and cherished endeavour.

Mark Grotjahn
Untitled (White Butterfly), 2002
oil on linen
182.9 x 61 cm

In Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled (White Butterfly) bands of milky pigment expand from the centre as rays of blinding light, drawing connotations of speed, virtual space, and religiosity in their sumptuous satiny finish. Within the intense concentration of Grotjahn’s monochrome, subtle diversity of hue, texture, and tone emerge as an infinite expansion. Recalling a wide range of artistic reference - from Malevich’s white on white compositions, Newman’s mystical
colour fields, to El Greco’s elongated Ascension - Grotjahn fuses past and present with a timeless spirituality.

Mark Grotjahn
Untitled (Orange Butterfly Green MG 03), 2003
oil on linen
132.1 x 71.1 cm

Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled (Orange Butterfly Green MG 03) evokes a sense of the metaphysical. Set atop an effused abstracted ground, his forms stretch and recede in the convoluted logic of linear perspective. Excecuted in coloured pencil, the optical illusion of adjoining rainbow-toned lines becomes compounded as a feat of concentration. Each band painstakingly filled by the artist’s hand, Grotjahn’s geometric form is delineated by the embossed traces of his endeavour, imprinting his personal gestures within an emblem of perfection.

Mark Grotjahn
Untitled (Black and Cream Butterfly), 2006
Crayon and mixed media on board
122 x 89 cm

Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled (Black and Cream Butterfly) combines the hard-edge of op art with the transcendental delicacy of abstract expressionism. Using crayon for its heavy waxy texture, Grotjahn’s black propeller forms cut through the mottled white ground as oscillating voids. Dividing the canvas down the centre with a razor like line, Grotjahn slices the vanishing point so that the bands on the left converge slightly lower than those on the right. Through this asymmetrical composition and ‘unstable’ medium Grotjahn creates a visually powerful emblem that’s both domineering and irresolute.

Mark Grotjahn
Untitled (pink butterfly), 2002
Oil on Linen
122 x 73.6 cm

Painted in superficial roseate hues, Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled (Pink Butterfly) pits the frivolity of pop against the high-brow orthodoxy of formal painting. Executed with a connoisseur’s obsession, Untitled is spellbinding in its rich surface, tonal balance, and flawless concentrated brushwork. Flaunting a mastery of technique at odds with the low-culture connotations of kitsch plastic colour and bold egoist tagging, Grotjahn humorously approaches abstract painting with tongue in cheek, transforming artistic faux pas into an image of intense beauty.

Mark Grotjahn
Untitled (Black Butterfly Dioxide Purple MPG 05), 2005
Oil on Linen
147 x 122cm

Mark Grotjahn infuses the detached genre of minimalist painting with a sympathetic playfulness. Bringing to mind Frank Stella’s black paintings, Grotjahn’s Untitled (Black Butterfly Dioxide Purple MPG 05) subverts the stark precision of modernism with impulsive centrifugal composition and skewed geometry. The attraction of Grotjahn’s painting lies in its subtle imperfections: brush marks expand with estimated gesture, and hand drawn angles and lines suggest an amenable humility. Painted in bold 80s power colours and hallmarked with tie-dye MG logo, Grotjahn’s Untitled celebrates instinct over analytical purity.

Mark Grotjahn
Untitled (Lavender Butterfly Jacaranda over Green), 2004
Oil on Linen
178 x 89 cm

Using natural phenomenon as a starting point for abstraction, Mark Grotjahn’s paintings straddle the polarities of artifice and nature. In Untitled (Lavender Butterfly Jacaranda over Green), his
efferent composition conveys a sensation of sublime weightless energy through simplified form. Similarly, his process and title reference the romantic vision of blooming jacaranda flowers:
revealing only a hint of green under-painting, his canvas explodes in a torrent of purple hue. Transferring the experience of observation to an intrigue of creative possibility, Grotjahn harnesses the mysticism of nature through aesthetic formality.

Mark Grotjahn
Untitled (Face), 2007
Oil on cardboard on linen on canvas
152.4 x 129.5cm

Expanding from the highly polished Butterfly paintings for which he is renowned, Grotjahn’s Untitled (Face) gets back to painting’s basics, extolling an immediacy which is radically different from his signature style. Executed on a sheet of torn cardboard mounted to a canvas, Grotjahn retains his radiant band motif complicating it with repetitively drawn, vicious-looking eyes, noses, and mouths. His thick, hurried brush marks sketch out the form with a primal celerity, re-conceiving his op-art mandala as something ritualistic and totemic.
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