Colin Gardner

  • Lee Kaplan

    Until this year, Lee Kaplan’s work had taken the form of small, intimate collages of photomechanically reproduced images derived from corporate reports, fashion layouts, and advertisements. By appropriating and dislocating the allegorizing strategies of early Modernism—such as those of Kurt Schwitters or Hannah Höch—and rereading them through the reifying language of Madison Avenue, Kaplan was able to disclose their historicized passivity and restate an open evaluation of the image-context dialectic. In two recent exhibitions, however, Kaplan moved up in scale and ambition to tackle historicism

  • Terry Allen

    Over the past five years, Terry Allen’s “Youth in Asia”—an ongoing series of mixed-media tableaux and installations—has provided a poignant and conceptually complex investigation into the legacy of the Vietnam War and its impact on the American psyche. While this might sound like familiar territory, Allen offers a fresh reading of it, juxtaposing the idealized signification of ”home" with dark symbols of alien cultures dismembered by war. Allen’s oeuvre defies easy analysis because it refuses to be either didactic or apologetic. With its dislocated, stream-of-consciousness combination of narrative

  • “Artschwager: His Peers And Persuasion, 1963–1988”

    Until recently, Richard Artschwager’s work had always been considered an anomaly at the margins of late Modernist practice. Although tied variously to Dada, Surrealism, Pop, Minimalism, and Conceptualism, and long considered seminal in exploring the blurred significations of painting/sculpture, sculpture/furniture, and object/image, the almost fetishistic banality of much of Artschwager’s output makes it extremely difficult to categorize. While his frequent use of Formica, celotex, and media-generated imagery points to a simulationist esthetic critical of Modernism’s innately self-reflexive

  • Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe

    Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe’s nonrepresentational paintings are inherently unstable. They exploit the metaphysical dialectic of presence/absence, interior/exterior, identity/difference through a series of formal discontinuities that create a multiplicity of possible readings. Gilbert-Rolfe achieves this largely through a strategy of decentering, forcing the viewer to discover ways in and out of each individual work, as well as through the apparent disunity of the installation as a whole. By deliberately clustering vertical strips of color toward the outer edge of the canvas, the artist is able to

  • Boskovich and I

    IN HIS WELL-KNOWN PARABLE “Borges and I,” Jorge Luis Borges drove a linguistic wedge between Borges the writer and Borges the individual, creating, in effect, two Borges. “I live, let myself go on living,” he wrote, “so that Borges may contrive his literature, and this literature justifies me.” This dislocation between the ego and the self expressed in the art object, and so between the ego and the art object itself, is of a type common in post-Structural thought, for example in the split between signifier and signified. Predictably, its popularity with many conceptual artists has taken on a

  • “CalArts: Skeptical Belief(s)”

    Founded by Walt Disney in the early 1960s from the merger of the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and Chouinard Art Institute, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) has become one of the most influential centers of esthetic discourse in the United States. Through its close alignment with Conceptualism and Post-Structural inquiry—particularly under the aegis of faculty luminaries such as Michael Asher, Allan Kaprow, John Baldessari, and Doug Huebler—the school has produced a generation of artists to whom issues of textuality, appropriation, and institutional reification are less ideological

  • Boyle Family

    Based in Greenwich, England, Boyle Family consists of Mark Boyle, Joan Hills, and their children, Sebastian and Georgia Boyle. Working as a collective unit (or “four feuding dictators,” as Sebastian puts it), the Boyles have spent the last 20 years working on a still continuing series called Journey to the Surface of the Earth. It began in August 1968 when the Boyles had a blindfolded group of family and friends throw darts at a large world map; by this method, they selected 1,000 locations randomly scattered all over the world. Since then, the Boyles have been systematically visiting as many

  • Winston Newport

    The name Winston Newport represents Los Angeles artist Eric Magnuson’s “Late Modernist” persona. It is also a semiotic construct that he uses to signify a specific methodological practice of co-optation. With its reference to cigarette brand names and Hollywood-style packaging, the name suggests a large Modernist corporation that produces and markets art objects for mass consumption. The objective is to cement Newport and Modernism as firmly together as Jeff Koons and Nike sportswear or Daniel Buren and vertical stripes. The irony, of course, is that no one has heard of Newport, far less “his”

  • Jeffery Vallance

    Wryly entitled “Icelandic Women and the King of Tonga,” Jeffrey Vallance's latest exhibition explored two very different cultures through the mythic power of their chief icons: Tonga's avuncular, 462-pound King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, and Iceland's beautiful, flaxen-haired women. Vallance followed his usual procedure of visiting the distant island communities and, through prearranged audiences with the local heads of state and collaborations with native craftsmen, combining and confusing the roles of artist, ambassador, sociologist, and travel correspondent to produce work that resembles a

  • Stephen Prina and Christopher Williams

    Collectively entitled “The Construction and Maintenance of Our Enemies,” this collaboration between Stephen Prina and Christopher Williams took the form of 13 black-and-white photographs of plant specimens at the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California, all from 1986. At first glance, these carefully composed depictions of roses, cacti, and other, more exotic plants appeared to be an ironic demystification of the conventions of landscape photography—especially those established by such hallowed Modernists as Edward Weston and Ansel Adams—through the direct simulation of historical

  • Gregory Mahoney

    At first glance, Gregory Mahoney’s “paintings” appear to draw upon the reductive tenets of hard-edge abstractionists such as Ellsworth Kelly and Leon Polk Smith. Viewed collectively, their impact seems hermetically formal, exploring the basic parameters of the picture plane (shape, edge, surface frontality) as well as the interplay of positive and negative space within the gallery environment as a whole.

    On closer examination however, the work discloses references to the natural landscape, particularly the desert, mountains, and ocean of Southern California. Mathematical geometry thus acts as an

  • David French

    David French’s paintings are steeped in the antitenets of post-Structural theory, specifically the deconstructive strategy of différance. Unlike those artists who slavishly reduce painting to a series of rhetorical simulacra, French demonstrates a much more playful intellect, owing more to Jacques Derrida’s linguistically slippery and semantically absurdest approach to philosophy than to the preordained dogma of post-Modernist gurus such as Jean Baudrillard. As a result, French’s witty image/text combinations attempt to mystify as much as clarify, fictionalize as well as rationalize. By deliberately