Art that is just wall paper

    Summer has peeked from around the corner of spring. Beaches are awaiting the lazy hours to be spent procrastinating. Yet art will not allow it to happen with ease. This time the journey will be for the innovation of the familiar, the triumph of the popular — by Ryan McGinness, a New York artist who’s been hosted in town by one of our very own La Jolla galleries (Quint Contemporary Art) with a show that brings together a bundle of his most recent works. The town is flourishing with art as spring begins to surrender. The Thursday Night Thing event of the month at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego included a lecture by McGinness, accompanied by a retrospective slide show of the artist’s work from exhibits in Paris, Munich and Tokyo, as well as New York.

    Photos courtesy of Quint Gallery
    “Pain Free Kittens”:

    In the Quint gallery, a small graphic image on the wall leads one to a room where the viewer is enchanted by the power of the surrounding images. “Pain Free Kittens” embraces the viewer in a rather unusual respect, as the entire space is transformed into a canvas and the white museum walls are abandoned for the overpowering designs of McGinness. The graphic images on the walls act as words and combine into sentences, forming further narratives in the work. McGinness constructs his language from the conflict that is created between abstract images and representational images of the visual world, creating a play for the viewer where the circular works smoothly fuse with the vinyl that decorates the walls. McGinness’ most recent works portray the use of acrylic on circular mediums of paper, canvas and wood, following the tradition of the iconographic silkscreens of Andy Warhol. With an understanding that reminds one of pop, the artwork and the common images of graphic design are integrated to a point where the repetition becomes a motif and the judgment of value becomes impossible. Single images that may be familiar are juxtaposed in a manner that is far from ordinary, and the simplicity of the images is broken with the layers of images that precede each other, queuing toward a Baroque style. From afar, McGinness’ works fulfill all tastes with immediate aesthetic satisfaction — bright colors, elegant figures and abstract images. A closer approach reveals detailed thought prevailing in every image placement; simple actions, images of flowers, cupids, castles and others combine to create a narrative commentary.

    The exhibition attracts a diverse crowd, portrayed by the dynamism of the opening, where skateboarders and surfers mingled with the high-art audience. It mimicked the diversity of the works themselves, where Rothko and Jeff Koons reproductions are juxtaposed with popular culture representations. McGinness’ hip audience is not without relief in his game; with a following that recalls Keith Haring’s Pop Shop in New York, the artist designs his own skateboards, T-shirts, mugs, soccer balls and books for purchase and has worked on corporate logos for MTV, IBM and Sony.

    Another work by McGinness — who was described by the New Yorker as “one of New York’s most promising bright young artists” — entitled “Beautiful Losers,” is also in a group show at the Orange County Museum of Art that promises to satisfy the younger audience with its collection; he is also at the “Greater New York 2005” exhibit at Public School No. 1 in New York City, jointly organized with the Museum Of Modern Art.

    McGinness’ work will appeal to a much more diverse crowd than just the usual art students and museum-goers. The exhibit runs until May 14. Directions and visiting hours of the gallery can be obtained at their website: http://www.quintgallery.com.

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