Magazine article Artforum International

Calvin Marcus: David Kordansky Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Calvin Marcus: David Kordansky Gallery

Article excerpt

Calvin Marcus

DAVID KORDANSKY GALLERY

Calvin Marcus's first major solo show in Los Angeles was titled "Malvin Carcus," suggesting, somewhat perversely for this painter just embarking on his professional career, that the works on view were traceable to an alter ego, and, moreover, to one that might be deceased--a carcass. The transposition of letters in Marcus's name could be interpreted as a revealing slip of the tongue, a spoonerism, but one performed consciously, to both acknowledge the morbid specters that haunt all talk of painting and to get them out of the way. Or it could be read as perfectly meaningless but nonetheless tactical. Let's remember that this is a ploy sometimes used on Facebook, for instance, when a person wants to remain hidden from all but a select group of friends. In some sense, Marcus slyly proclaimed that this show is for you!

To align Marcus's practice with social media might seem odd, considering the resolutely aged vintage of the works on offer, all of which invoke the aesthetic atmosphere, at once jaunty and existentially fraught, of postwar America--but then, isn't anachronism today's reigning mode? Our various avatars are always nostalgic constructs, bittersweet compendiums of historical data. Interactive space, both real and virtual, is something that Marcus understands well, having been uniquely successful at mobilizing a social network around a range of events and projects--notably a themed bar, hosted in his East LA studio, that summoned up the aura of the great bohemian watering holes of the New York School for the posthistorical set. For this enterprise, while tending the counter, the artist wore a custom-made linen shirt screen-printed with a vaguely ironic period motif of martini glasses and suspended olives. When his tenure as barkeep came to an end, Marcus printed the pattern onto additional shirts that he subsequently wore on a daily basis as a kind of artist's uniform. The first section of the Kordansky show was devoted to these artifacts, which lined the narrow walkway that one had to traverse to get to a larger space densely hung with a series of paintings, all composed of sketchy doodles in black oil crayon and Flashe paint on cream-white primed linen. The shirts and the paintings, two very different bodies of work, nevertheless evoked a coherent persona, at once historically dated and utterly up-to-date. …

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