Magazine article Artforum International

Ingrid Calame

Magazine article Artforum International

Ingrid Calame

Article excerpt

KARYN LOVEGROVE GALLERY

One good look at a painting by Ingrid Calame will reveal that the warm critical reception extended to her oeuvre amounts to mountebank persiflage. The gimmick behind the project--Calame traces the shapes of sidewalk stains, then transfers them to aluminum and fills them in with sign-painter's enamel--was flimsy enough to begin with, and by now it's just fatuous. The device is intended to bring in chance and, I suppose, free up the control of the ego, but it's not the cultural anthropology that her fans claim it is. Her process was recently given full view in Los Angeles: Three plans of her stain outlines in neon oranges, acid yellows, etc. were displayed for three weeks, after which a single new ho-hum painting was "unveiled" with all the solemnity and self-importance of a new Rothko. Here, metallic copper and gold splatters among navy and umber only gild the obvious: Despite somehow abjuring psychological and existential aspects, the work smacks of expressionism (the strip-mall variety). The tired hocuspocus extends to Calame's titles, gibberish that supposedly onomatopoetically represents the ambient sounds she hears when she completes a painting (motors whirring, fans oscillating, etc.). Yeah, right. Two weeks into its presentation, the new painting was still untitled. (Maybe it took Calame all that time to figure out how to spell ffwsptffwsptffwspt.)

The titling shtick is as moronic as the stain-hunting procedure. Not that stain hunting in itself can't lead to something remarkable. With Ed Ruscha's stains, for example, the actual residue of different materials (from beets to Vaseline), you get a visceral sense of content: that different things stain differently, with different intensities and force, even with different temporalities. His stains are palimpsests, stand-ins for painting's history, artmaking as messmaking. …

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