June 25, 2011
April 20, 2011—Mark Grotjahnʼs third solo show at Anton Kern Gallery is comprised of nine large-scale Face paintings. In an apparent departure from the monochrome Butterfly paintings of his 2007 gallery show, the new works are based on the simple geometric structure of eyes, nose, and mouth. The Face paintings are polychrome, made up of innumerable ropy lines of color, and built-up in relief-like and tactile layers of thick, lively paint. The motif of the face, however, has been a constant, although often invisible, presence in Grotjahnʼs work, not only as a model for symmetry, but also as an underlying initial gesture of a face brushed onto the canvas before becoming obscured by the subsequent painting process.
In the catalog essay (to be published in June), painter Carroll Dunham describes the phenomenon of Grotjahnʼs faces: “[They] are readable to varying degrees from painting to painting in the torrents of colored lines that are the basic unit of activity. […] They weave complex spaces that may really be the subject of the work. Faces are the nominal subject, but the lines seem to pass around and through them, almost as though the faces are already physically present and the lines cascade over them like fast water over rocks, revealing their contours by inference.”
Grotjahnʼs new paintings demonstrate that the spirit of the face – wild, untamed, animalistic, free and limitless – motivates the artistʼs entire oeuvre.
2011ArtforumReviews: Mark Grotjahn
2011New York Times