The Hooligans, Adrian Ghenie’s fourth solo exhibition with Pace Gallery, brings forth a selection of nine new paintings and three drawings from the enigmatic and expressive Romanian artist. All produced within the last year, the show draws on Ghenie’s continued interest and exploration of abstraction and its history, pulling in particular here from the work of J.M.W. Turner, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin. Radicals in their time, their work unsettled artistic conventions, and here are treated as such in Ghenie’s equally visceral style.
This new body of work continues Ghenie’s exploration of abstract figures, layered shapes, and gestural painting techniques to create complex images intertwined with art historical narratives. Ghenie’s meditation on the idea of hooliganism, examining the role of rebellion in the artistic process, is applied here towards an excavation of art history and European history in tandem, long a hallmark of the artist’s work. Somber and gritty, his canvases feature gestural, abstract brushstrokes that build on their roughshod application and clumpy application to create a wild gestural mass, here twisted in portraits and representations of the aforementioned figures, or turned them into references of their works.
Ghenie sees these artists as active disruptors in the flow and continuation of academic painting, affirming the materiality of oil paints with their loose brushstrokes, while amplifying painting’s optical qualities. Paint in these artists works was equally a sensuous experience of the material and an expression of the self, realized through the images these artists depicted. Here, Ghenie turns that notion on its ear, bringing these artists’ visages to the forefront with the same visceral energy their work expressed, that same sense of immersive luminosity and chromatic richness. new optical instruments and scientific experiments had already initiated. Ghenie, whose past work has explored the relationship between painting and cinema, continues to mine art’s ever-evolving relationship to history, vision, and technology, as suggested by the presence of anachronistic details, such as sneakers and baseball caps, VR goggles and security cameras, that interrupt broad sections drawn from familiar nineteenth-century paintings.
The show, an expressive and intuitive investigation of the meaning and drive of these artists, closes February 27th.
– J. Shines
Adrian Ghenie [Exhibition Site]