Mon 13 Feb 2023 to Sat 1 Apr 2023
Promenade 79, 3780 Mark Grotjahn: Backcountry
Artist: Mark Grotjahn
Gagosian presents Backcountry, an exhibition of new paintings by Mark Grotjahn. The works on view represent a continuation of those in Grotjahn’s identically titled 2022 exhibition at Gagosian London.
In his paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, Grotjahn interweaves various modes of abstraction, applying an expansive vocabulary of motifs and techniques to the investigation of color, perspective, seriality, and the sublime. In Backcountry, he continues to draw inspiration from rural landscapes and his ski touring and fly-fishing adventures in the backcountry of western Colorado. In several works, he uses white paint—suggesting, perhaps, the feeling of a snowy mountain descent—while darker-toned compositions allude to nocturnal ventures. The scale of the works places them in a direct, visceral relationship to the bodies of both painter and viewer, conveying the unique atmosphere of their inspiration and a sense of awe at the overwhelming grandeur of the natural world.
Rather than aiming to capture a sense of place, Grotjahn’s project here is to communicate the essence of a fleeting but powerful experience, both in nature and in the studio. Through bold, expressive movements and strong carving strokes, the artist prompts the paintings to embody the feeling of his physical actions. The results are emotionally charged and ripe with layers and textures. Grotjahn often disrupts the surfaces of these works with small rolls of paint created from excess impasto—bulbous staccatos within the dense arcs of color.
In the Backcountry paintings, Grotjahn demonstrates his ongoing commitment to abstraction; while loosely derived from personal observation of landscape and the natural world, the works do not represent it objectively, confronting viewers instead with a total involvement in varieties of application—line, tone, and texture—and their vivid results. Thus, the artist’s choice of a horizontal format might be seen as reflecting not only the broad visual perspective of a skier, but also as alluding to an ever more complete immersion in his formal process as a whole.