Magazine article Artforum International

Dianna Molzan

Magazine article Artforum International

Dianna Molzan

Article excerpt

Place: A drawing room.

Time: Right about now.

CYRIL: Ekphrastically, before taking up some of their core concerns (frame/picture, support/color, individuality/variety, expressiveness/reiteration--although they trouble any rote opposition suggested by the forward slash): Molzan's paintings launch into a rousing version of "Dem Bones" as if covered by Bryan Ferry.

VIVIAN: Ekphrastically, really?

CYRIL: Why not? They eschew anyone else speaking for them. Like most compelling art, they're already in advance of the broken arm of any possible philosophical systemization, which often ends up hobbling, crutches for a fit sprinter. Do I mix metaphors? Do I miss metaphors? Yes and yes. The paintings "articulate" quite particularly but also nonchalantly: voguing their structure, how they're put together, their constitutive parts. For example, in Untitled (all works Untitled, 2009), the decision to hem the linen intensifies the bottom edge of the frame and the confluence of "painting" and its structural "supports." Yet the affective move--akin to the moment when, reaching for a book (remember?), a shirt shifts to bare midriff (say, the much beloved iliac furrow) and you glean a smiling exposure (in the painting's case, of stark wood)--eludes the flaccid category of "theoretical painting."



VIVIAN: By which you mean?

CYRIL: Laboriousness passing as painting. Theorizing with stand-ins for paintings. To the chagrin of theory. Instead, Molzan spontaneously, haphazardly arranges a bouquet of paintbrush-cleaning dabs (Parfum d'Odilon Redon, with its top notes of self-consciousness), some of which drip to freak the otherwise unadulterated frame. The result beguiles rather than beleaguers because she somehow activates the unassimilable.

VIVIAN: Dude, sometimes the entire thing's situated on legs, raised away from but hanging on the wall, loaning it a breakfast-tray-like aspect, regardless of the vantage. Sometimes it juts out, ledgelike. The chestnut thoroughbred number with teal detailing (great brown paintings occur too rarely) sports a protruding forehead.

CYRIL: So: the Ferry spiritual of skeletal structure--of order and revivification--but glammed by the relief of color, precision stylistics, and wry personal tweakiness.

VIVIAN: The artist finds a way to be hard alee from the battering winds of anything goes. Her tacking ...

CYRIL: ... rather than tactics ...

VIVIAN: ... navigated in part by her invention of an ongoing dialogue between Georges Seurat's La Grande Jatte, 1884-86, and Eva Hesse's Hang Up, 1966--both key, even iconic, works at and of the Art Institute of Chicago, where Molzan spent her formative years.

CYRIL: Ah, the Windy City, where I spied you as runner-up for International Mr. Leather. Intrigued by the absence in almost every reproduction of the white moderne frame Seurat designed for LGJ (despite the fact that he'd painted a portrait of his painting in its bespoke outfitting in Les Poseuses, 1887-88, a background before which bare models arrange themselves), Molzan noted that "Hesse's frame can never be edited out of photographic reproductions as is done with Seurat's painting. The frame can never be denied as part of the content of the work." Perhaps the frame or framework takes on such importance because parameters that once defined medium, among so many other things, have been jettisoned?

VIVIAN: That's a rather long leap into, how you say, allegory.

CYRIL: Do I have to spell out how it's not? If one response to the quotidian situation is that kid whose party you're so into ...

VIVIAN: Ryan Trecartin!

CYRIL: ... his ferocious shuffling off and reembodiment of the digital coil ...

VIVIAN: ... his multiplatform extreme assault in a hacker's patois that you might brand, um--since his world's so Mac and in no way PC--Shakespeare Snow Leopard? …

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