A. R. T.
Mark Grotjahn: Seven Faces
Visually reminiscent of Picasso, Grotjahn’s Face paintings intermingle abstract and figurative renderings while dismantling and building on the conventions of modern and contemporary painting. Using sheets of cardboard that are primed and mounted on linen as the ground, Grotjahn employs brush and palette knife to extensively build layer upon layer of oil paint to almost sculptural ends. Working in varying scales, combinations of texture, lines, color and abstracted geometric shapes develop into representational eyes and noses that are broken down, multiplied, and rearranged, fracturing any fixed perspective. Other paintings possess networks of expressive lines formed strictly with a palette knife and rest on the verge of non-objective abstraction. Both the gestural and literal carvings cut up the painting and further adds to the tension between illusionistic space and the reality of the paintings’ physical surface. The seemingly idiosyncratic Face paintings are like their counterparts, his abstract and systematic perspectival-based Butterfly paintings, simultaneously mimetic and expressive, but arrive at this balance in reverse order. These ritualistically repetitive and intensely textured paintings point to Grotjahn’s implicit observations of and evolution in the practice of painting. Catalogue of the exhibition held at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, February 27 - April 3, 2010.