Sunday, October 4, 2009

Frank Magnotta

In June of this year, my wife and I were in NYC to set up a show and spent a day hitting the Chelsea galleries. Although we didn't come out of that experience like we usually do (commiserating over the end-of-days) we did feel again let down by the art world and it's predictable glut of text-heavy, anti-beauty, anti-meaning art. There are always exceptions though, and that's why we return.

I have always had a good experience in Derek Eller Gallery and this time was no exception. Hanging was a solo exhibition by Frank Magnotta. Frank hails from Michigan and currently lives in Brooklyn. My first introduction to Frank's work happened in the Phaidon Press book, Vitamin D. His work stood out in a group of very strong artists. I think that what immediately strikes me about his work is his complete control over the medium of graphite, his ambitiousness in scale, and how there doesn't seem to be a lazy square inch on any drawing. This used to be the rule and now it is the exception. Seeing his large-scale drawings in person affirmed what I had seen in Vitamin D. , but like always, the drawings in person are far more impressive. The works on view consisted of complex structures made up of American low-culture and consumer kitsch signage with amorphous forms, sitting in surrealistic planescapes. They are huge and a little overwhelming. Frank also makes portraits but there were none in this show. The Artforum critic's picks review compares Frank's work to Paul Noble because I think there just isn't another drawer that makes such monumental graphite drawings that are this tight. If you ever have a chance, don't miss seeing these in person.

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