Mark Grotjahn brings a body of new work to bear at Blum & Poe this month, continuing the artist’s expressive exploration of the potentials for abstraction and gesture. Bringing a series of paintings unified under the title Backcountry, the artist’s work continues to explore a range of geometric iterations and variations on canvas.
Grotjahn has developed a particularly unique mode of practice over the past decades, merging together abstraction and figuration, geometry and gesture through a range of series of and media that encompasses paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. In each, he strikes a balance between exacting rigor and intuition and improvisation while drawing on a broad range of contemporary and modern art history. Often using geometric motifs or structural undergirding as the jumping off point for wildly gestural strokes of paint that bely a meticulous sense of space and construction, his work has long walked a fine line between an enervated expressionism and a dense attention to line and form in the spirit of Russians like Kandinsky
For Backcountry, Grotjahn continues his particular iterations of geometric abstraction, tracing broad arcs of paint over the canvas, repeatedly covering them over with new lines and curves, then paring away at the surfaces using a palette knife, or using the tool to push paint across the canvas into new sets of relations and densities of impasto. The result is a series of compositions that deconstruct the loping hand of the artist, and introduce momentary disruptions and deconstructions of an easily understood logic. Chaos seems to work as a central conceit here, or rather, a mitigated chaos that sees the artist embracing a spontaneity that eluded past works of his.
Taking on his own aesthetic history with a renewed vigor and perspective, Grotjahn’s work is on view through October 23rd.
– C. Rhinehart
Mark Grotjahn [Exhibition Site]