Masks Bursting from the Flatness of Painting —Mark Grotjahn’s Sculptures
In a radical act of transformation, Mark Grotjahn (b. Pasadena, 1968; lives and works in Los Angeles) turns an ordinary wobbly cardboard box into a precious and solid work of art: a bronze sculpture on a pedestal. With rough cutouts for mouths and eyes, cardboard rolls for noses, and corrugated surfaces, the assemblages recall primitive infantile masks. Grotjahn casts them in bronze and then paints them in a gestural expressive style with streaks of bright oil paint. Set on pinewood bases, the masks are paintings and three-dimensional objects at once: not just mere combinations of two techniques but genuine hybrids, never-before-seen chimeras. They enrich the genealogy of modern art, and of painted sculpture more particularly, with a new facet, engaging the modernist ideas of found object, assemblage, and welded sculpture in dialogue and harking back to the masks and sculptures of classical modernism inspired by non- Western art. With an essay by Mark Prince.