Automatic Drawing #16, 2015
oil crayon and Flashe on gessoed linen
121.9 x 243.8 x 3.8 cm
[from the pressrelease]
Calvin Marcus constructs his practice starting with the most basic of materials: himself. Nonetheless, his work is not concerned in any overt way with his own biography or the specifics of his life. He is interested, rather, in the artist’s persona as it takes shape through carefully directed formal decisions and conceptual structures. The mixed-media paintings, sculptures, and drawings that result are as notable for their meticulous attention to craft as their surreal humor, evincing a playfulness borne from multivalent gestures and variance among serial forms.
Malvin Carcus centers around two new bodies of work installed according to a specific architecture, designed by the artist, that heightens their narrative overlaps. The viewer enters a space reminiscent of a hall of portraits, except that in this case the “portraits” are replaced by a series of shirts that have been fabricated by the artist, and that bring together strategies related to drawing, printmaking, performance, and readymade sculpture. Made from linen fabric onto which he has printed sketch-like images of a martini glass and olive, these idealized “leisure shirts” are worn by Marcus as he goes about his life. After a given period, each is then brought to a different Los Angeles dry cleaner. The finished pieces, as displayed here, retain all of the plastic covers, tags, and other interventions the cleaners apply to them; any remaining stains, meanwhile, reflect the impossibility of completely removing the presence of the artist himself from whatever he makes. In addition to providing a wry commentary on the nature of an artist’s labor (itself considered by many to be a rarefied form of leisure) the shirts pose a potential trajectory through the cityscape Marcus appears to inhabit.