Magazine article Artforum International

John Kelsey: Galerie Buchholz

Magazine article Artforum International

John Kelsey: Galerie Buchholz

Article excerpt

"How much of the painting is already in the TIFF?" With this query, John Kelsey--author, gallery director, and member of the art collectives Bernadette Corporation and Reena Spaulings--began his 2010 essay "100%." The question hints at-a larger concern that remains central to Kelsey's work: In the current age of hyperactive networking, to what extent is painting, or art in general, already digitally encoded as soon as it enters the space of communication, even if it cannot be reduced to a purely communicative function? Or, as Kelsey himself put it in the catalogue for the 2012 Whitney Biennial, "Artists tend to be entirely complicit with the demand to expand the noncontext of cyber-capitalism, especially when they make rough-or careful-looking stuff that really wants to show that it's here, present, specific, even critical."

In this, his first solo show under his own name, Kelsey connected the digital with the "rough-or careful-looking stuff" and explored their relationship in a manner all his own. Kelsey juxtaposes printed text-based works similar to those he showed at the Whitney Biennial--poetic appropriations and reconfigurations of language from spam e-mails-with a series of watercolors mounted on metal. Some of the watercolors are delicate, colorful renderings of the names used by senders of spam to evade filters, some are portraits, and others are abstractions made by painting around coins that had been scattered across the paper.

But the exhibition was predominantly devoted to watercolors of buildings, usually seen standing alone amid pastoral landscapes. Most are viewed from a great height, as if from a satellite or helicopter,.and a very few show details of the interiors of the buildings. As the titles explain, these buildings are mostly the data centers of companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple-high-security facilities that house-the hardware behind the knowledge economy, the supposedly immaterial production of the digital cloud. …

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