MARK GROTJAHN (B. 1968)
MARK GROTJAHN (B. 1968)
MARK GROTJAHN (B. 1968)
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MARK GROTJAHN (B. 1968)

Untitled (Standard Lotus XI Face 44.10)

细节
MARK GROTJAHN (B. 1968)
Untitled (Standard Lotus XI Face 44.10)
signed with the artist's initials and inscribed 'SL XI MG' (lower right); signed, titled, inscribed again and dated twice 'Untitled (Standard Lotus XI Face 44.10) 2012 M. Grotjahn 2012 XI' (on the overlap)
oil on cardboard mounted on linen
73 5/8 x 53 5/8 in. (187 x 136.2 cm.)
Painted in 2012.
来源
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner, 2015

荣誉呈献

Isabella Lauria
Isabella Lauria Vice President, Specialist, Head of 21st Century Evening Sale

拍品专文

Untitled (Standard Lotus XI Face 44.10) is among the best works from the artist’s celebrated Face paintings series, which advanced and expanded his ongoing commitment to investigating natural forms. On a monumental scale, the painting creates a universe from abstract marks that is still rooted in recognizable shapes and allusions that are cerebral, tactile, and emotional. A contemporary response to Pablo Picasso’s dissolution of the body and Henri Matisse’s stretching of space, Untitled is a inflection point in art’s long history of reframing perception. New York Times co-chief art critic Roberta Smith called Grotjahn’s Faces, “…elegant things that enthrall the eye and splinter the mind. They emphasize painting as a psychic and bodily process fueled in part by the devouring and digesting of previous art to formulate a new synthesis” (R. Smith, “Mark Grotjahn: Nine Faces,” New York Times, May 12, 2011, https://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/13/arts/design/mark-grotjahn-nine-faces.html). Nowhere could this assessment be better seen than in the present work.

With his admirable ability to layer form and color, Grotjahn uses abstract forms to refer to nature, here a lotus flower, and thereby invites the viewer to see the world differently. Shapes emerge from layers of pigment, heaped upon each other like an incandescent sculpture. Reds, yellows, and blues combine and suggest the myriad forms also found in our faces. Paint itself becomes the subject as much as the implied smile, nose, or frown lines. Grotjahn intricately weaves paint upon itself. Filled to the edge of the cardboard and linen support, Untitled has a visually arresting excess that does not overwhelm, but rather becomes an invitation to come closer, to see how the artist has created a painterly cosmos. Red fills the upper edge of the work like a sunset, creating a pathos that reminds us of Grotjahn’s decades-long interest in cyclical, diagrammatic movement through time and space. Critic Suzanne Hudson even compares Grotjahn’s faces to his Butterfly series, like Untitled (Mag Blue to Mag Blue Donker Butterfly), “The bilateral symmetry of the butterflies emerges from the human face…In these encrusted canvases, paint occupies as central a motif as the nominal faces: It produces form while reinforcing itself through raw, plain tactility” (S. Hudson, “Mark Grotjahn: Anton Kern Gallery,” Artforum, September 2011, https://www.artforum.com/print/reviews/201107/mark-grotjahn-39229).

That abstract rawness, which harnesses an entire history of landscape, portraiture, and still life, is referential not only to Impressionism and Cubism, but also to the French Realists: Rosa Bonheur’s muscular landscapes, like Three Stags in a Woodland (1875) or the stunning naturalism of Gustave Corbet, as in The Trellis (1862). While Grotjahn chooses an abstract approach rather than a representational one, he shares with many nineteenth-century painters a handle of the materiality of pigment and how it can evoke the lively solidity of dirt, clothing, flesh, and the complexity of flora and fauna. Nature, humanity, and the history of painting collide. According to curator and scholar Michael Auping, “The Face paintings are about faces embedded in nature, and actually constructed from tree branches and leaves. Grotjahn acknowledges these transformations, pointing out in particular the ‘veins of leaves, feeling like human veins’” (M. Auping, “The Nature of Mark Grotjahn,” Gagosian Quarterly, May 15, 2020, https://gagosian.com/quarterly/2020/05/15/essay-nature-mark-grotjahn/). Untitled (Standard Lotus XI Face 44.10) thus becomes a portrait of all of us as it gestures toward coursing blood that unites us and gives us life, just as the painter’s tools do.

It is impossible to overstate Grotjahn’s influence on contemporary art in Los Angeles and beyond. His work is represented in numerous prestigious public collections, and he was the subject of international solo exhibitions at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2014), the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen (2012), the Portland Art Museum (2010), Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland (2007), the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2006), and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2005). Frequently working in series based on his capacious interests, Grotjahn uses each exhibition as an opportunity to shift and deepen his visual language and create a series of self-referential styles that are both art historical and contemporary. He thus becomes a chronicler of his time as he reflects our urgent concerns back to us and offers a chance for reflection and subjectivity.

At once beautiful, exact, and introspective, Untitled (Standard Lotus XI Face 44.10) is more than a game of trying to locate some visage within an abstract landscape. For no matter what one sees when one gazes upon it, one can always see the skill and thoughtfulness inherent to it and to Grotjahn’s career generally. There is no telling where he will take us next, but what is sure is that it will be novel and familiar, uncanny even. Grotjahn is a chronicler of our collective psyche as he asks us to seek the unexpected.

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