Gallery Libretto

From Paper Monument. Issue 4 forthcoming this summer.

Scene I

Wade Guyton, “OS,” at the Whitney Museum

 

Roger

Don’t you think there’s a sense of punishment, James

an element of self-mortification in the way

Guyton has been embraced by the institution?

A recognition that contemporary art

can do no more than imitate

the mode of production outpacing it?

I’m talking about The Digital, of course

 

James

I don’t see it

Guyton is making sure

photographers will always finish second place

by using their technology and exploiting it

better than them

 

Roger

But it’s clear that his work validates a discourse

in which the painting is the symptom

and the painter the vector

of a mindless automatist disease

Just listen to curator Ann Temkin

 

Ann Temkin

Pollock flung it

Rauschenberg silkscreened it

Richter took a squeegee

Polke used chemicals

Wade is working in what by now

is a pretty venerable tradition

 

James

Guyton isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty

even if that means

keeping them clean

Unless an artist gets his hands dirty

he is a selfish asshole who adds nothing to the world

in my eyes

 

Wade Guyton

I never really enjoyed drawing or art classes

I would prefer to sit in front of the TV or

play video games


Scene II

Tacita Dean, “Fatigues,” at Marian Goodman

 

Roger

Tacita Dean?in a sentence please

 

James

Joyce’s “ineluctable modality of the visible” plus time

Everything in her work is about how time

lends itself to the bittersweet

 

Roger

That’s two, and her drawings

 

James

They’re from memory

 

Roger

Is she a modernist

 

James

She starts from point zero on everything

But everything in her work

feels like her work

because of her inherent negativity

 

Roger

Wow


Scene III

Caleb Considine at Essex Street

 

James

The main product of the MFA system is self-consciousness

a surplus of self-consciousness that exceeds the dialectic

creating an oscillation that tends towards agitated stasis

like being stoned and over-caffeinated at the same time

This is communicated here in a palette of icy blue-grays

and the white of latex paint

under fluorescents

 

Roger

These paintings aren’t so far from Guyton

They tackle the same structural issues:

the disappearance of the referent

the screen as landscape

the slippage between formats

the triumph of the copy

These are the great themes of twenty-first-century art

what Vanitas was for the Dutch Golden Age

Here the artist has couched them

within academic realism

 

James

In Patrick you look at the face and you think

Egyptian portrait mask

Then you look at the hair and think

Where did the artist study?

 

Gallery Attendant

Considine did his graduate work at Yale University

 

Roger

I see early Lucian Freud here

here and in the work of

Peter Stitchbury

 

James

There have been no decent British painters

thus far in this century

 

Roger

What about the 19th

 

James

Gwen John

 

Roger

Spencer is good, I like Spencer

I don’t like Sickert

 

James

At least Sickert was a murderer

 

Roger

Well he murdered Impressionism

 

Gallery Attendant

Can you please take this somewhere else?

 

Fin.

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