MARK GROTJAHN: Fifteen Paintings
May 1 – June 20, 2015
Opening reception: Friday, May 1, 5 – 7pm
Blum & Poe is pleased to present an exhibition of new Face paintings by Mark Grotjahn. Fifteen Paintings marks the artist’s seventh solo presentation at Blum & Poe and follows recent exhibitions of Grotjahn’s Circus paintings at Kunstverein Freiburg, Germany and his Turkish Forest series at Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy.
Furthering his exploration into the possibilities of non-representational painting, Grotjahn digs deeper into motifs developed nearly a decade ago in his earliest Face paintings. During the last two years, Grotjahn has made a suite of fifteen oil paintings on cardboard mounted on canvas, each scaled at approximately 50 x 40 inches and informally referred to as “Indians” and “Non-Indians,” distinguishable by their respective color palettes and unique compositions. Each painting is grounded by a central white vertical axis from which the composition sharply radiates outward. Much like his celebrated Butterfly paintings, the prevailing central line (resembling a tulip in early bloom) becomes the backbone from which the rest of the painting emerges. Other recognizable focal points, such as elongated Picasso-esque eyes, flared nostrils, and Cheshire Cat-like grins, can be deciphered upon further reflection.
Grotjahn employs a palette knife to drag, scrape, and feather densely woven layers of oil paint. Aggressively worked from the center of the painting, the impasto offers a glimpse into the many layers of color comprising the composition. Reds, yellows, blues, purples, and greens explode forward from darkened backgrounds. In some areas, the texture of raw cardboard is still visible. Extending beyond the vertical edges, thick accumulations have been left exposed. As one carefully observes and appreciates the complexity of the process, the generosities of the works as a whole are revealed.
Mark Grotjahn lives and works in Los Angeles. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Kunstverein Freiburg, Germany (2014); Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2014); and the Aspen Art Museum (2012). He also has been included in group exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2014) and Museum of Modern Art, New York (2014), as well as in the Whitney Biennial (2006) and 54th Carnegie International (2004). His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Tate Modern, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.