20-APR-2013   -   15-JUN-2013


21 April – 15 June 2013
Private View Saturday 20 April

CHOI&LAGER is pleased to host a group exhibition by Pierre Dorion, 
David Elliott
, Rodney Graham, Nicolas Grenier, Annie Hemond-Hotte, Dil Hildebrand, Benjamin Klein, Shannon Oksanen, Etienne Zack and Derek Root.

These are paintings. No gerrymandering over medium here. But if we resurrect an old debate, hyperbolize the issue, all too hastily, before renewing our commitment to painting, this is only to emphasize the absurdity this discourse allows: an absurdity embedded in paint.1From here, these ten artists wield a precarious force.
Their works are not hybrids & they know it.2 & yet, crucially, these artists are aware that there are other possibilities in painting, & in art - that painting- as-painting in this pointedly traditional, non-serial & non-performative sense is a corner - and they are going in.3

A WELL-KNOWN ART- IST recently remarked that an image ink-jetted onto paper would be a photograph; the same image printed the same way on wood would be a sculpture; & the same image, printed the same way, on canvas, would be a painting.4 Boundaries have been blurry for some time - at least since the 60’s, or since Modernism, or since cave painting -with the result that “avant” painters today perform a radical dispersion of their efforts into not one valuable & sequestered object but into hundreds of nearly identical “devalued” works: commodities traded in a flooded market.
5 This - as museums struggle to departmentalize new acquisitions based on the categories of old. & yet, if you can hang it on a wall, you can sell it at painting prices. The “problem” of what constitutes painting has been handed off, laterally, from artists to dealers, for whom the obscurity of a work’s classification is a selling point.
6 Yet despite painting’s critical ambiguity, on the one hand, & its fashionable irrelevance on the other, we sense a certain sigh of relief as this madness called Post-Modernism eases into something gentler & more difficult to tag, but that nonetheless results in Paintings.7

BUT WE HAVE PRO- CRASTINATED long enough— not as long as possible, as the continuation of this debate bears
out - but enough. We return to the work at hand. The works here are paintings; they are only this. Their painting-ness depends on our agreement to call them paintings. In fact, their very painting- ness hangs on a general transience, a categorical instability, pierced by many arrows. When we no longer talk about painting, or about art, they will no longer be “only this”; they will return to crude matter. Meanwhile, painting, from its corner, implicates walls & floors & all shown there, drawing all of art into its tautological relevance.8

THE PAINTED-IN COR-NER is a fulcrum, from which the artist, like a cornered drunk, deflects all takers. Holes in the wall, thinly papered, are ready to carry you through on the strength of your best jab. The title of this or any exhibition of paintings could be “Why Painting?”9 Evinced in the work of artists who bother to ask the question is an emphasis on what painting does; how painting infiltrates & confuses & punctures the discourse of art, not just by flirting with other mediums - but by also being painting.

THESE PAINTINGS THREATEN to be photographs, or diagrams.10 11Something quotidian or valueless. Decorative or merely referential.12 13 Dangerously insular or illusionistic.14 15 They speak from a techno- logically backwards position, proposing crude painterly machines.16 How close we are to drawing in the mud with sticks.17 We might see a noodling wire border around a chunk of white painting as a sculptural slippage - but let it be
a frame; custom, artist-
built, as old-timey as its
art - a claim laid to an
abandoned zone.
This is no joke; no
punchline masks an
endgame. Whatever
irony these works
contain stems from
the nuances of the
medium. Yet their
looseness & wit speaks
directly to a larger mediated condition. The painters featured in this exhibition diverge, then proceed, from the contingency of painting. They recognize & apprehend the debate that boxes them in & corners their art. But through painting as medium, we can annex whatever suits us, & jettison the rest - the painting debate itself, for example: gladly, now the province of non - or other painters.

Travis Diehl
September 2012

1 This anxiety surrounding painting is certainly subjective. Still, we should acknowledge painting’s knack for inciting a uniquely polarized ambivalence.

2 As Douglas Crimp wrote of Stella in reference to his late-70’s “shaped” works: he is “only able to point at painting from the distance of a peculiar hybrid object, an object which may well represent a painting but certainly can not legitimately be a painting.” “The End of Painting,” October 16, Spring 1981.

3 See Thomas Lawson, “Last Exit: Painting,” Artforum vol. 20 no. 2, October 1981.

4 See Wolfgang Tillmans
in conversation with Michelle Kuo, “Step Into Liquid: The Ascendancy of Ink-Jet Printing,” Artforum vol. 51 no. 1, September 2012.

5 At least along a certain New York-Berlin axis: Wade Guyton & Seth Price on one continent, Martin Kippenberger, Merlin Carpenter, & Michael Krebber on the other. See also MOCA’s “The Painting Factory: Abstraction After Warhol,” 2012.

6 A gallerist recently observed, regarding a wall work by Anton Lieberman that is black hot glue on green Formica, that “most people mistake it for a painting— but of course it is a painting.”

7 See David Gees, “Neo-Modern,” October 139, Winter 2012.

8 Pierre Dorion, Moma, oil on canvas, 2012.

9 See Travis Diehl, “A Wall Melts,” Art Mûr vol. 6 no. 5, April-June 2011.

10 Derek Root, LopSided, oil & wax on canvas on wood, 2012.

11 Nicolas Grenier, Middle Ground, oil & acrylic on wood, 2012.

12 David Elliott, Two Heads In The Studio, oil & acrylic on canvas, 2012.

13 Shannon Oksanen, Green Spicoli, oil on canvas, 2012.

14 Dil Hildebrand, Ordinary Indirection, oil on panel, 2012.

15 Benjamin Klein, Angels, oil on canvas, 2012.

16 Annie Hémond Hotte, Nocturn (Portrait of James Ferris), oil on canvas, 2012.

17 Or, for that matter, from beating each other with them. Etienne Zack, Share, oil on linen, 2012.

18 Rodney Graham, Untitled, mixed media, date unknown.