Mostly, though, paint functions as a medium of resistance for Ligon; it occludes visibility and threatens form. Nowhere is such deletion more explicit than in Untitled (Cancelation Prints) (1992 and 2003), where a flesh-coloured ‘X’ overtakes the entire white image field, demarcating the distance between the construct of whiteness and the pinkness of most European skin. This obliterating impulse equally manifests in Self-Portrait, the inky, black surface of which is visibly scratched and gouged. Such signs of refusal emphasize how Ligon’s numerous self-portraits are invariably exercises in effacement and retraction. – Leora Maltz-Leca
Paintings may be pictures, but they are always objects. The blatant materiality of Sergej Jensen’s canvases made them seem part of the interior architecture of Neu’s gallery. Jensen has consistently had an ambivalent relation to the spaces in which he shows his work. Previously at Neu, he arranged mats on the floor that resembled his patchwork paintings, converting the gallery into a pseudo-living room, the paintings into decor that satirized the convention of a “high-art painting” show. – Mark Prince
Lucy Skaer created these drawings consisting of rhythmic black sharpie spirals in grids, pictorial shapes, and patterns additionally filled in with graphite like a tapestry. She wove together different earlier drawings as a patchwork and utilized a few assistants to carry out the tedious, repetitive labor. Here, we see a play with drawing on paper at an architectural scale. A tension exists between the intricate, repetitive detail in graphite (which we may see as lushly decorative) and the bodily scale shift to a larger, wholesome framework. – Drawing Art Center
In his recent work Manor Grunewald has made a dual turn, pushing his paintings in two seemingly opposing, but in fact intimately related directions. Towards a washed out, nearly empty field, on the one hand, and towards a full, image-laden one on the other. – Alex Bacon
Stefan Brüggemann is keen on thinking up titles. So far he has compiled a list of 1,271 of them (‘Show Titles vol. #1’, 2000–6), creating for himself an index of imaginary exhibitions. One might begin, then, with the title of the present show: ‘Soap Box (A Decorative Form of Nihilism)’. A ‘soap box’ would suggest political declarations, the arts of rhetoric and public address, perhaps even the pathos of outmoded ideals. ‘A decorative form of nihilism’? Well, what else can one do with non-belief but inhabit it, display it as a mark of distinction, covering the walls with parerga abutting onto nothing in particular? We might describe Brüggemann first as a rhetorician of emptiness. But, working in the tradition of the dandy, he has also succeeded in dramatizing boredom, which opens ‘soap box’ to a rather different, more private set of connotations. – Tim Stott
It’s not worth it, says Allen. And it might not be worth for Lebrija either, whose dark Mexican humour and metaphysical bent continues a great tradition of artists and writers. Bittersweet and lucid nihilists, who, despite the impending shadow of failure, never cease in their quest to find the answers to those questions. – Lorena Muñoz-Alonso
I combine painting with sculpture, and the made with the ready-made. Investigating colour, form and architectural and special arrangements in relationship to painting as a subject and discipline in and of itself. My new work is the result of a sustained interrogation of painting and process in relation to the found object.
A series of new ‘Found Paintings’ are examples of this new investigation. Carefully selected objects such as used and discarded scrap metal, table tops, dusty panels and lighting units are presented as paintings, challenging the viewer to look beyond speculation about former use and action, towards acceptance of each object and surface as aesthetically final and complete, a reclamation and assertion of Painting through the artistic legacy of the found object.
My work draws on influences from disparate sources, referencing the luxury of 50’s and 60’s interior design of West Coast America, the murder scenes of Helmut Newton, Colour Film Noir and the post-industrial landscape of North East England. Salvaged from local scrap yards these works lead a double life: both as autonomous objects and as Mise-en-scene. As such they imply an event or act that occurs outside the work ambiguous and substantiation except for the intimated luxury or seediness of material and colour the works become both sinister and erotic. – Paul Merrick, 2012