Magazine article Artforum International

Jordan Kantor; Ratio 3 Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Jordan Kantor; Ratio 3 Gallery

Article excerpt

How much do we have to know about the backstory of a work of art in order to understand and appreciate it? Jordan Kantor's enigmatic paintings seem to pose this question explicitly, by challenging viewers' expectations about the mediation of images. At a moment when eye-candy art has been in the ascendancy for some time, the relative inscrutability of Kantor's canvases is pleasurable, in a slightly masochistic way. His paintings demand our commitment but give us something in return by requiring us to be actively responsible for interpreting them.

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The larger pictures in the show are based on carefully chosen photographs. These range from an image of the Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini lying dead in the street to spectacular shots of the catastrophic explosion of the space shuttle Challgner: streaks of white smoke across a deep blue sky. Another is based on a negative image of four people trying to observe a solar eclipse by looking through metallic filters. All of these selections remind us of how much any single image omits and of what a photograph fails to do. In Untitled (The Bar), 2007, Kantor works with an x-ray photograph of Edouard Manet's Bar at the Folies-Bergere, 1882, riffing on traces of the French painter's frist ideas, hidden from view in the finished work--Kantor imagines that the girl once wore a tie, for example, instead of a demure ribbon around her neck. What is these elements had prevailed, instead of those now enshrined in ary history? …

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