On Friday, March 25th, 2011 from 6 to 9 p.m., Galerie Michael Janssen will be presenting new works by L.A.-based artist Monique van Genderen. Her second solo exhibition in the gallery is entitled The Gentle Art of Making Enemies.
The title of the exhibition alludes to the book of the same name by James Abbot McNeill Whistler. It was first published in 1892 and is an account of personal revenges between Whistler and the art critic John Ruskin who criticized Whistler‘s painting Nocturne in Black and Gold, exhibited in the Grosvenor Gallery in London in 1877, as "unfinished" and as "a plot of paint flinged in the public‘s eye". Whistler was incensed with the criticism and initiated a libel case against Ruskin. Extracts from the trial record are among the highlights of the book. It is also a historical document that helped in shaping the modern feeling toward art in the 19th century. It has often been said that the affair paved the way for nonrepresentational painting.
The twelve paintings on view in the first part of the exhibition all have exactly the same dimension: 6 feet high and 4 feet wide (182,88 X 121,92 cm); a dimension that appeals to the spectator‘s body as well as the eye but is rather an awkward dimension for paintings in which its center is hard to find. Unlike her previous works, the paintings are made on unstretched canvas rather than on wood panels addressing questions of "unfinishedness" and of expectations of what painting might be. The surfaces in her paintings are alternately transparent and reflective. A closer look reveals occasional matte areas, which define the physical surface on which she works. The various levels of transparency and reflection are achieved through different types of paint: oil, enamel and alkyd (a resin-based oil paint). Her color choices range from organic to synthetic. The result is a spatial complexity achieved only through the play of actual light and color.
Van Genderen‘s paintings recall Matisse cutouts, Andy Warhol‘s flowers and 1950‘s sources as Helen Frankenthaler‘s Color Field paintings and graphic design techniques. In her work Van Genderen explores elements of narrative, illusion and figuration within abstraction by allowing the surface and material narrate the picture plane rather than a subject.
Also on view is a series of smaller clay paintings in which Van Genderen uses fired clay and glazes to make lyrical abstractions. The surface of the clay has an imprint of canvas which makes one think they are paintings on canvas; an interaction of painting and sculpture in which playfulness and the promiscuous intermingling of art and craft, silliness and seriousness, design and décor predominates.
Monique van Genderen b. 1965 in Vancouver, Canada. Lives and works in Los Angeles. Solo exhibitions (selection): 2009: Pacific Design Center, West Hollywood, CA. 2008: Galerie Michael Janssen, Berlin. 2006: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta. 2005: Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; Howard House, Seattle. Group exhibitions (selection): 2011: ACME Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. 2010: Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland; Brandstrup Gallery, Oslo, Norway; Pacific Design Center, LA, CA.