Magazine article Artforum International

Paul Pagk

Magazine article Artforum International

Paul Pagk

Article excerpt

Paul Pagk knows the truth; you can follow the lines on his canvases straight (more or less@ to the heart of it. You know the truth, too, even if you try to forget every now and again. The truth is that the Institution permeates our existence so completely that it is all but invisible, so completely that we hardly notice it at all anymore. Like air, like water - there are alternatives, but none of them are very practical, at least not for now. So, wherever we look, we invariably find that the institution is already there, waiting for us, arms outstretched.

Which is not to say that any of this is bad, necessarily: there's no embrace quite like the institutional embrace. It is warm and all encompassing; in its cool serenity it brings a kind of forgetfulness. And unlike most significant others, the institution almost never shouts (why bother when a whisper will do?) only murmurs quietly that there is nothing new under the sun, nothing new ever again - words that remain as comforting, as disquieting, now as they ever were.

Of course, no art form is better suited to transmitting that soft voice than painting: it's a child of the institution itself, has been for ages. Geometric abstraction in particular has always been beloved of banks and hospitals and other official sites. It showed the institution the face it wanted to see: cold clean lines, hard sharp geometries. In Pagk's paintings though, we see the face we always knew was there: isolated broken and curving lines, fractured geometries, everything endlessly crossing and recrossing itself. …

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