Magazine article Artforum International

Allan Graham

Magazine article Artforum International

Allan Graham

Article excerpt

ANGLES GALLERY; FAWBUSH GALLERY

Allan Graham's deliberately dysfunctional doors metaphorically open onto the series of paradoxes that once grounded representational painting: before they migrated to formalist abstraction, then mutated into Minimalist installations, and finally disappeared into what is commonly thought of as everyday life. The artist's meticulously unfinished and unenterable constructions neatly chart the architecture of an essential aspect of Modernism's negative impulse--its desire to align the rarefied territory of esthetic experience with the mundane. On the surface, Graham's works are common, slightly altered Masonite doors that have been painted black or white and hung on shiny brass hinges in simple pine frames. Upon entering the gallery, you're almost immediately compelled by childish curiosity to try to open the single, paired, or double doors, either by slipping your fingers into the holes where the doorknobs are supposed to go, or by prying the ones that are slightly ajar further apart, or even by aggressively pushing the others toward the walls on which they are mounted, despite your knowledge that the visible hinges make all this impossible. As expected, nothing gives. Literally denied access to the other side, you find yourself peering through peepholes--into utter darkness--and even bending over, like a voyeur, to see if anything might be visible through the holes where the doorknobs should be. In each case, all you can see are saturated, lightswallowing shadows. …

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