Brian Dupont: Artist's Texts

An artist's writings on art.

Posts Tagged ‘Hauser & Wirth

Teenage Wasteland

Jakub Julian Ziolkowski’s new exhibition is by turns riotous, raw, and phantasmagorical, but the underlying conceit of an ode to a fictional rock band that starts the show is slowly swallowed by Hauser & Wirth’s pristine space.  The viewer is left to navigate a sequence of works that sometimes coalesce around an idea or large statement, but other times meander to unrelated images that feel one-off, as if the artist is attempting to digest too many influences at once.  This problem is compounded by the addition of a number of drawings that feel more like studies included to fill the galleries. However even if the energy of the show is somewhat juvenile (as nicely summed up by Roberta Smith), that isn’t really a bad thing. The show seems to chronicle a growth spurt (with some literal examples), and there’s room for an inventive artist to grow, mixing and matching new ideas or identities and shrugging off the old ones that no longer fit.

There is a distinct feeling that painting isn’t really necessary to his idea, that any process that could catch and translate the impulse of imagination to hand to surface would do. Even the artist’s hometown of a small renaissance city turned factory center in Southeast Poland would have felt the broader cultural effects of rock ‘n roll; this work is painting and not graffiti, posters, or ‘zines because it wants the context (and market) of art (with a capital ‘A’). Here the use of oil on canvas or panel feels like a responsibility to that context, a suit worn by a sullen teenager who can’t wait to strip it off and cut loose.

Walking through the galleries, I couldn’t help but think of Gary Panter, who has been diagramming the insane excesses and juxtapositions of hyper-urbanism since before Ziolkowski was born. Panter’s punk roots and omnivorous approach to media seem much more extreme and simultaneously at ease with sudden changes of pace and switchbacks in working methods. The difference between these two artists’ work is the difference between the pioneers of Rock ‘n Roll and their trust fund kids. That they need space to grow doesn’t mean that the kids don’t have something to say, that they aren’t all right.


Written by Brian Dupont

July 27, 2010 at 11:35 am