Jon Rafman, Fernand Leger Bomb, 2010
Some recent works over on Jon Rafman’s excellent piece Brand New Paint Job. Here so many crossovers are brought into proximity… the post-gallery, post-exhibition reality of a collectable painting largely as an adornment to the interior decor of the collector, bent around their objects like a kind of philosophical wallpaper, but in Rafman’s handling such a suggestion occurs skinned upon 3d alreadymades from Google 3D Warehouse. In this way the project may also wryly tackle one of painting’s most hotly defended and greatest historic fears: the decorative.
Each instance is a consideration between an object and a painting, potentially pitting the uselessness of paintings against the function of objects, dialing that hallowed and receding ground between art and design. Or casting painting in the lead role of Tradition for the visual, a position that blankets current image based material found within the internet. Seen in this way as an ancestor, out of context and sampled, Rafman may seem to suggest history is ultimately wrapped around whatever we do. This is interesting, particularly as history is a cumulative process, you know, history is actually increasing. The further into the future we go, the more history we must carry. We might not have to carry it as much as before if history is online, because now it’s just chilling in your pocket. In any case we could, like they did 100 years ago, always dump history by the wayside to lighten the load. Break free. Or as we see in these works by Jon Rafman, we could just continue to carry our burden awares - and do it with equal parts style and wit.
In each piece iconic proponents from the history of painting are summoned in the house of Google, relegated to the status of add-on surfaces, custom bitmap textures, literally shrink wrapped around pieces of online community objects. Is history fitting the current or is the current fitting history? Positioning painting in this way brings it into the realm of an exclusive wallpaper, a humorous play with interior designer chic. In some of the interior living spaces where Rafman has completely covered every object in a room with the repetition of a single painting, the room becomes a domestic shrine to a work, it’s facets a vortex, as objects are lost to and within a mutation of planes. Is this a new painting? Or a new paint job? With the critical Auction House Heights (AHH) of painting now represented also as google Image Search Stock (ISS), history can be understood as layers applied over or under the present, like a paint job.
by Ry David Bradley
Some of Jon’s work is on view in New York at the latest offering from the New Museum, a show entitled FREE which opens tomorrow. For your reading delight, Jon may write a mini-essay for PAINTED,ETC. in the close of this year.
An excerpt from the show text, curated by Lauren Cornell:
Today, culture is more dispersed than ever before. The web has broadened both the quantity and kind of information freely available. It has distributed our collective experience across geographic locations; opened up a new set of creative possibilities; and, coextensively, produced a set of challenges. This fall, the New Museum will present “Free,” an exhibition including twenty-three artists working across mediums—including video, installation, sculpture, photography, the internet, and sound—that reflects artistic strategies that have emerged in a radically democratized cultural terrain redefined by the impact of the web. “Free” will propose an expansive conversation around how the internet has affected our landscape of information and notion of public space. The philosophy of free culture, and its advocacy for open sharing, informs the exhibition, but is not its subject. Instead, the title and featured works present a complex picture of the new freedoms and constraints that underlie our expanded cultural space.