Exhibition review: Mark Grotjahn, Armen Eloyan, Hesselbrand, Smile

Brief notes on current shows. These are just subjective thoughts so I’m using a formula for each review, listing what I “didn’t like”, what I’m “not sure about” and what I “liked”.


Mark Grotjahn Pink Cosco installation view (L-R) Untitled (Yellow Cosco II Mask M40.I), Untitled (Yellow Cosco VII Mask M40.o), Untitled (Yellow Cosco VI Mask M40.m), Untitled (Yellow Cosco V Mask M40.n) (2016) all painted bronze 151.1 x 84.5 x 92.7cm

Mark Grotjahn Pink Cosco at Gagosian Gallery

Didn’t like: Nothing here I disliked.
Not sure about: I admired this work and this is a small complaint, but not 100% sure about his use of his own name in the work. Previously, some of Grotjahn’s paintings have featured his name and the date of completion prominently, but here his name appears on almost every side of every sculpture. It started to remind me of designer clothes branded with giant name tags, or rappers who rap their own name repeatedly on every track. I get that it’s a choice to make the “signature” part of the work, I just feel uneasy about these and other “my-own-name” paintings by Josh Smith and George Condo. Its kind of interesting, kind of annoying.
Liked: everything else. The installation, the scruffy/imposing presence of the uniform bronze sculptures cast from one cardboard box, the varied textures and mark making, the dynamic lines that function variously as abstraction / schematic anatomy / writing (including text, numbers, and something verging on a treble clef). Most of all, I enjoyed the fantastic use of vibrant colour in combination with the sculptural form. It’s like he turned tomb stones into Tequila sunrises. Spent a long time with these, and would happily see them again.


Armen Eloyan Garden installation view (2016)

Armen Eloyan Garden at Timothy Taylor

Didn’t like: Nothing here I disliked.
Not sure about: the scale. I felt Eloyan’s ideas were straining to cover the three enormous canvases (290 x 450cm each) and six bronze casts that make up the show. The gallery says his works “engage with art history through key figures […] such as Philip Guston, Paul McCarthy and Jean Dubuffet”. Add to that list Paula Rego, Mike Kelley, Jean Michel Basquiat, Sue Williams, Jonathan Meese, and George Condo, and I slightly wonder what Eloyan is adding to the conversation.
Liked: a lot of aspects, only compromised by it all looking familiar. My favourite sculpture was the two-metre tall Peperami sausage man, possibly for Freudian reasons.


Hesselbrand Three Found Models installation view (2016)

Hesselbrand Three Found Models at Soho Revue

Didn’t like: The confusing art-speak texts on the walls. Why not use clearer language? BANK’s Fax-Back service would have a field day with this.
Not sure about: the dirty foot prints on the otherwise pristine surfaces of the sculptures / architectural objects. If they’re going to be stepped on, maybe they could be painted with something more easily washable or more forgiving of marks? Apart from a few scuffs, their cleanness seemed important.
Liked: Phenomenologically, there was an exciting relationship between the objects and the gallery space, in scale, form, texture and colour. Site specific, minimalist, interactive, and formally intriguing enough to capture my attention even though I was primarily looking for painting exhibitions.

Smile We Delight in the Passivity of your Obedience fly poster on Charing Cross Road

This was not a formal exhibition connected to a gallery, but a fly poster unlawfully (I presume) posted on Charing Cross Road. It contains the following text: WE DELIGHT IN THE PASSIVITY OF YOUR OBEDIENCE. / BIOPHOBIA, ECOCIDE AND THE HOSTILE GLOBAL ELITE. WHO ARE THEY? / THE HOSTILE GLOBAL ELITE. WHO ARE THEY AND WHY DO THEY HATE YOU? SMILE. / INSTAGRAM @SMILESTREETART

Didn’t like: Nothing here I disliked.
Not sure about: the word “hate”. If the “hostile global elite” in this context refers to people in positions of power who are causing or facilitating “ecocide” in the form of man-made climate change, and if “you” refers to the rest of the population, then the word “hate” would probably more accurately be “disregard”. Not much to be gained in turning the issue into a mysterious conspiracy theory. “Why do they disregard you / us ?” puts more onus on us to ask ourselves what we could do about it.
Liked: the production of art outside the market, placed prominently in public to send a direct message, with a sense of urgency and seemingly some kind of belief in the potential of art to affect positive change. What interests me about this type of project depends entirely on it remaining outside the market, at least during the artist’s life time. Art history of the last hundred years is strewn with (pseudo?) revolutionary projects that exist now only as artefacts assimilated by the culture industry and traded on the market. We don’t need another one.


One thought on “Exhibition review: Mark Grotjahn, Armen Eloyan, Hesselbrand, Smile

  1. Pingback: Date as content (plus more transparency) | dailydaub

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