John Fraser: Roy Boyd Gallery

By Yood, James | Artforum International, November 2007 | Go to article overview

John Fraser: Roy Boyd Gallery


Yood, James, Artforum International


Up, down, left, right--the seeming inexhaustibility of the possible formal (and even psychological and emotive) variations in the geometric structure of the grid is what maintains its curious hold on our consciousness. John Fraser functions as a kind of grid antiquarian, embellishing nascent grids discovered in found objects, elevating the salvaging of spent cultural artifacts above mere nostalgia by virtue of the undimmed pertinence of the geometric play embedded in them.

In most of his recent work Fraser uses old books as his primary source material. It is solely the physical structure of these artifacts that interests him; in no instance here do we have any way of knowing which volumes he deconstructs. He removes all text, all the pages, leaving only the books' front and back covers and the spines that join them. He then mounts these emptied vessels onto a wood construction so that the "front" of the book is hidden. All that remains visible is the muted interior of this shell, dominated by (usually blank) endpapers.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The inside of the spine is marked only by discolored glue and torn bits of string, the only trace of the text it used to cradle. A mottled ecru, a pale tan veneer of age, dominates, but Fraser often also employs light coatings of acrylic varnish and passages of graphite to further even out the spent tomes' dun surfaces and patch up their broken lines. …

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