David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to announce its participation in the Dallas Art Fair with a solo presentation by Calvin Marcus. Employing an irreverent sense of humor and a willingness to invent new formal methodologies as each body of work requires, Marcus poses complex questions about what it means to portray an artistic persona. The presentation will feature three different typologies––paintings, a group of shirts, and a series of ceramic sculptures––that elude easy categorization and demonstrate the artist's interest in serial forms.
The paintings, all titled me with tongue, depict the same demonic visage of the artist, his tongue stuck out confrontationally, mockingly, and/or lasciviously at the viewer. Each begins as a sketch that Marcus executes with crayons; he then uses oil sticks to render the image on a canvas whose surface he has meticulously prepared to resemble the feel and finish of paper. In this sense the resulting self-portrait is not painted in the traditional sense of the word, but rather re-drawn on a monumental scale. Repeating the image, with variations in color and composition, heightens its indelibility while calling attention to small but essential changes in its details. Marcus’s devilish face seems to laugh at the idea that there can be one definitive version; like the self, the more we look at each image the less we are sure of what it is we actually see.
Self-portraiture takes on a different guise in the shirts, whose narrative brings together strategies related to drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and performance. To start, Marcus tailors each from printed linen that bears sketch-like images of a martini glass and olive drawn by the artist. Wearing each custom-fitting leisure shirt, like a uniform, for a given period of time, he accumulates accidental and intentional stains, before retiring it to a different Los Angeles dry cleaner. A large part of the shirts’ final graphic presence is therefore determined by other parties, as the lasting markings, as well as the imagery on the plastic covers, the text on the paper tags, and other visual information “added” by the cleaners serve as an aura, between presence and erasure, through which the shirts must be seen. The shirts also relay Marcus’s keen understanding of the greater contexts that surround his work, creating an inadvertent portrait of a particular industry in a particular place (the Los Angeles where he lives and works) at a particular time.
The ceramic sculptures provide a very different kind of emotional charge. Fanciful, even surreal tableaux featuring diminutive, sensitively glazed fish in a variety of settings (a plate of spaghetti and an oyster shell among them), the works offset the menacing mien of the paintings with an equally mysterious naïveté, and emphasize Marcus's tendency to utilize extreme shifts in scale as a means of activating exhibition spaces and viewing experiences. Because the sculptures will be shown individually, each for a single day of the fair, they also serve as regular markers of time, bringing a further sense of temporality to the booth. The worlds the smiling fish inhabit feel both fragile and self-enclosed, as private––and as universal––as the teeming depths of Marcus’s imagination.
Calvin Marcus (b. 1988, San Francisco) was recently the subject of solo exhibitions at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles (2016); Peephole, Milan (2015); C L E A R I N G, New York (2015); Chin’s Push, Los Angeles, (2014); and Public Fiction, Los Angeles (2014). His work has been featured in group exhibitions internationally including Repainting the Image After Abstraction, White Cube, London (2015); Le Musée Imaginaire, Lefebvre & Fils, Paris (2015); and Works on Paper, Greene Naftali, New York (2015). Marcus will be included in a group exhibition at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich from April 16 through May 21, 2016. Marcus lives and works in Los Angeles.