The paintings and drawings are executed in ink and enamel on linen or paper. With one painting, a green abstraction, the artist links color and material to invoke abstraction’s gradual evolution from the spiritual and the political to the economic. Two large paintings indicate years from the recent past, depicting them carved into stone slabs covered in green moss as a way of addressing patina’s relationship to historical value. In another painting, torn fragments of a green hundred-euro banknote are rendered in enamel over a found still-life painting. All of these works reflect aspects of how a painting can function — as an object of contemplation, for example, or an object of commerce.
In three ink drawings, Sietsema has manually duplicated the process of mechanical reproduction, copying pages of The New York Times by hand-rendering each typographic mark. Another drawing portrays an artist’s palette smeared with oil paint. Its unintentional paintbrush dabs have been replaced by expressionistic ink marks — a substitution of one medium and its inherent mark-making sensibility with another.
The two films in the exhibition explore the mechanisms of circulation and the experience of apprehending an image through text — both examples of a medium distancing an object from the viewer. For Abstract composition, a black and white film projected here in 35mm, Sietsema has taken phrases from online auction sites (“English hunting scene,” “painted waterfall,” “carved marble urn”) and, using digital animation, punched the words into a cardboard sign that appears to rotate slowly, like a coin flipping between heads and tails.
The 16mm color film At the hour of tea, which presents five sequences structured around found objects —silver coins, Roman glassware, a green leatherette box, an envelope, and a typewriter — gradually reveals a text describing a historical painting in modernist terms. The sequences of these objects arranged in tableaus, together with the text, offer historical analogues for modern processes of consumption, production, and communication: collecting, arranging, and recording.
Paul Sietsema (born 1968) lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been the subject of one-person exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Basel, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. In the past two years he has had one-person exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco. Fifty-Three Works by Paul Sietsema, the first monograph focused solely on his paintings and drawings, will be published by Mousse in the fall and will include essays by Tim Griffin, Emiliano Battista, and Eva Fabbris.
Paul Sietsema is on view at 1062 North Orange Grove and 7818 Santa Monica Boulevard from September 24 to December 23, 2016, Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
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