Grotjahn, an American painter based in Los Angeles, is well known for his abstract expressionist works and while his paintings have been widely exhibited, the Gagosian show marks the debut of his sculptures in a gallery setting.
From left: Untitled (Orange Picasso Mask M8, gj), 2012; Untitled (Green Eyes and Orange Cream Mask M6/7.f), 2012
His Mask sculptures trick the eye. They resemble painted cardboard boxes, with slashed eyes and paper towel tube noses, but they’re actually made of cast bronze. Modeled from cardboard renditions Grotjahn had worked on for several years, the bronzes manage to record every textural imperfection of corrugated cardboard and thick application of paint. The interplay between a cheap, quotidian material like cardboard, and a highly cost prohibitive one like cast bronze, is fascinating.
The sculptures also recall a diverse cross-section of art historical moments: the African and Oceanic influence on the Modernists, as well as children’s, or naïve, art. But Grotjahn’s pieces are unique in their own right, combining the primal with the innocent to create something almost universally relatable.
Photos: © 2012 Douglas M. Parker Studio