• Mark Grotjahn

    Blum & Poe | Los Angeles

    The “butterfly” has become to Mark Grotjahn what the target is to Kenneth Noland, the zip was to Barnett Newman, and the color white is to Robert Ryman. Of course Grotjahn is goofing on these and other classic motifs, but more important, he is using the immediately recognizable trademark as a means to interrogate the slippery nature of the artistic signature. Grotjahn’s abstracted geometric figure is suitably elusive. In fact, the more familiar it becomes, the more he refines its ability to surprise and, perhaps paradoxically, takes it further away from actual butterflyness.

    Grotjahn started

    Read more
  • Isaac Julien

    MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Schindler House

    Isaac Julien’s recent exhibition at MAK Center for Art and Architecture consisted of a group of photographs, some of them triptychs, which are stills from a fourteen-minute film (not shown here) shot in Iceland and northern Sweden in 2004. Collectively titled “True North,” these works offer a loose retelling and interpretation—what Julien has called a “re-memorizing”—of the story of Matthew Henson. This underacknowledged African American was the right-hand man upon whom Robert E. Peary depended for the success of his 1909 expedition to the North Pole, and was likely the first man to reach the

    Read more
  • David Hullfish Bailey

    If American painters continue to doggedly mine the border between abstraction and representation, it is because they remain, in general, conflicted on the issue. Neither a painter nor really a sculptor, David Hullfish Bailey has found it more productive to speculate on the nature of the opposition itself rather than seek any kind of synthesis. Architecture, urban planning, and product design appear in his work as real-world sites of this ongoing aesthetic conflict, providing concrete instances of a figurative occupation of abstract space and vice versa.

    The reductivist argument for abstraction

    Read more