Here we have photos documenting another of Grant's recent performance pieces. This piece began at 10PM with the artist calling down the stairs, "Uh Oh! I think I have a little problem!" When his audience arrived he stated "I think I used too much lotion". This understatement was the core of the piece. The artist had slathered lotion on his left leg to the point of absurdity. He trailed it across his bedroom, his hands held so much lotion that they appeared mitten like, and his stuffed pig had lotion on its snout. This excessive use of a product designed to return the appearance of youth to the skin, on the perfect skin of the young artist skewered the adult fear of aging and our drastic yet ultimately futile attempts to fight it. No amount of chemicals, lotions, or surgeries will ever erase the signs of age and the artist mocks our useless attempts to recapture our youth.
This performance recalls an event Grant staged in January of this year (2006). Again, no warning was given that a performance was going to take place, the audience assembled after hearing a strange slapping sound coming from upstairs. Upon their arrival the viewers witnessed the artist spreading large circles of Eucerin lotion on his bedroom wall. When pressed for an explanation of his work, he replied, "I'm making marshmallows". Unfortunately for Grant, his art was not appreciated by the critics and he was given a time out and had his trains taken away for a full day.
Sunday, December 31, 2006
Saturday, December 30, 2006
"Before I was born Jesus told me to go to an art show."
- Really? What kind of art was it?
"It was...uhhh.....kinda a kid one. Jesus came too and he told me I had to be a good little boy and no yelling. The door was up really, really high and I had a special ladder, but I can't find it now."
Monday, December 18, 2006
In this marker on paper drawing, the artist shows an Albers like interest in color. But, where Albers approached color carefully, like a scientist, Grant attacks it like an animal. He is not afraid to get his hands dirty in his quest to learn its secrets. He will either understand it or destroy it.
The ambiguous title captures the mysterious feeling of this drawing. A delicate structure of red, blue, and purple intertwines and overlaps. The red and blue lines resemble some sort of vascular system that seems to be failing, collapsing under its own weight.
The drawing is reminiscent of Terry Winters' recent paintings, but while Winters explores similar ground, Grant's work is fresher and more organic. His work is imbued with a sense of humanity and life. There is always a hint of some sort of narrative in Grant's art that we can't quite grasp, as if we walked onto the set just as the actors left. Winter's structures come across as a bit cold and mannered in comparison.
The first tinges of blue have already started to seep into the sun's core, sapping it of its warmth. Its last rays hurdle off into space. Is this a depiction of the sun's eventual death; the slow transformation into a black dwarf? Or could it be a metaphor for that particular form of teenage malaise that is so prevelent in small towns? Either way, it is a weighty subject for a 3 year old, but it is handled deftly.
A hirsute fellow hides behind a mask as he forlornly gazes downward. As the title suggests, he was unable to resist writing on his pants and is ashamed. A trail of tears runs down his cheek, escaping from beneath his mask and betraying his humiliation.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Here we have a photo of the artist posing as a preschool student. Like Nikki S Lee, he has transformed himself in order to infiltrate a unique social group and document his new identity. The artist spent months studying groups of 3 year olds on playgrounds and in playgroups. He learned their mannerisms, their unique style, and habits. He ate what they ate and used 3 year old slang. Notice the attention to detail; his "picture day" outfit is spot on, something a mother would swoon over, but his hair is tousled to capture that fresh from the playground look.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
"It's a rain cloud and it is raining out the people that were in it"
A swirling brown mass hangs heavily on the page. Several dripping lines and dabs of color escape its belly. A red smear seems to fall into the page in the upper left corner. This work was created after a two week long rainstorm in the artist's home town of Olympia, Wa. Like Jonah escaped the belly of the whale, the people are spit out from the depths of the cloud. They are represented in bright reds and yellows, capturing the hope and joy of a rare sunny day in the midst of a Northwest winter.
"He just wants to see the star, not crash. His name is Cackle and he lives in his bedroom"
The star in question is a small cut-out shape on the far right of the page. "Cackle" seems to be headed eagerly towards it. The artist has explained that the small circles running along Cackle's jaw are "curls". Under no circumstances are they to be called a beard, as this critic learned the hard way. The antenna like shapes on top of the head are "uprights" and the large circles on either side of the head are his ears.
The frantic rendering energizes the work. One can almost feel Cackle's enthusiam as he rushes towards the star, even his hair seems to reach out in anticipation. He may fear crashing into it, but that worry seems no match for his desire to get a closer look. It is interesting that the artist depicts the star as a void. It is a chasm pulling Cackle into its depths. Though aware of the danger, he rushes on. The artist was recently told not to play with the plug for the Christmas lights. He was observed attempting to remove it and then reinsert it into the outlet. Grant was warned of the dangers but five minutes later was once again caught in the act. When confronted he said, "I shouldn't do it because it will 'lectricity me." The next day he tried it again. Like Cackle's star, the plug drew Grant in despite his knowledge of its dangers. Its beauty was apparently worth the risk.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
In this untitled abstract work the artist explores his interest in entropy. Anyone that has seen his playroom has noticed his experiments in disorder. The artist prepared his paper by placing it under several previous drawings and allowing marker to seep through in a random manner. He then let these random marks inform his final colored pencil composition.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
In "Alien", Grant continues his exploration of "the other". His work is often populated by figures marginalized by skin tone, single giant eyeballs, multiple limbs, or extraterrestrial origins. This interest in outsiders may stem from the artist's own diminutive stature, as well as his inability to tie his own shoes, conjugate verbs correctly, and make it to the bathroom in time if he is having fun playing with trains.
In this drawing, we see a hot pink, cycloptic alien tumbling out of view. A portion of his head has actually left the page and his body seems set to follow. This unusual composition brings a certain tension to the piece, though it remains delicately balanced and pleasing. Grant captures the action of the alien, but does not explain what has caused his fall. We know that the artist has an intense aversion to the attention of strangers. Perhaps the alien is his surrogate, dodging our judgemental gaze.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
It is the urgency of Grant's drawings that makes them so compelling. There is something almost desperate about them: as if the artist was creating them out of absolute neccesity, or maybe trying to put off bed time by cranking out drawing after drawing.
Grant explains that this alien is from the next door neighbor's house. I will have to monitor them a little more closely and make sure they are not stealing our bananas. Bananas are not cheap this far North and if Grant's drawing can be trusted, they are wasting them.
Grant wanted me to let you know that he will have more work soon. He has been at an artist's residency in Vermont and is anxious to get back to the sunny climes of Olympia.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Instead of describing the image we are seeing, the title describes what we won't find in the drawing. It apparently represents what the artist had in mind but did not produce. The title also begs the question: why was there no room for a skeleton? Assuming that there is no preset size for a skeleton and the artist was only limited by his fine motor skills and the bounderies of the page, why couldn't a skeleton fit? Could he not have scaled his idea down to fit the page? Could we really be talking about psychic space? Perhaps the limits of the page were such that they could not contain Grant's idea of a skeleton. Better to abort the idea than dilute it?
So, what was there room for? A tornadic form funnels our gaze to a pale glow at its center. A dark shadow falls to the lower left. We are gazing out of Plato's Cave towards the sun in our climb towards enlightenment. The form of the skeleton that could not fit on the page casts its shadow on the cave wall; a pale imitation of Grant's perfect idea.
A blue skull wears a concerned expression on his face (or lack thereof) as he floats isolated in a white void. There is no hint of context, just the skull confronting the viewer with his worried gaze. We learn from the title that he is ruminating on the subject of preschool. We do not know who the skull belongs to, though it does seem probable that it represents the artist, since he is currently in preschool. Is the skull an omen? Is it a metaphor for emotions laid bare?
In a recent interview, Grant stated, "I go to preschool on Tuesday and Thursday. Is it Thursday? Is Thursday tomorrow? Will I go to preschool tomorrow. I'm going to play with the train table." Preschool seems to stir a nervous energy in the young boy, an energy that is translated into his art.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Another in The Magic Schoolbus series, "It's All The Magic Schoolbus" shows the bus once again spinning into action. Critics often fawn over Grant's facility in mark making, and here we have it at it's most dynamic. His lines are almost electric; they pulse with energy as they pull the viewer into the vortex of his composition. When asked why he so frequently includes the bus in his work, he answered, "Because I do." When pressed to elaborate he covered his mouth with both hands and left the room.
Here we have a lovely drawing documenting Grant's recent performance piece, "Halloween". For the performance, the artist dressed as a train conductor, complete with whistle, hat, red scarf, and "soot" on his cheeks. He then proceeded to wander the street asking neighbors for candy. The the performance continued and he began to repeat, "more candy, more candy, more candy" under his breath. As he knocked on doors asking for "treats", he seemed to gain momentum until he was dashing from door to door nearly yelling, "more candy, more candy!" He then returned home and ate as much candy as he could before collapsing on the living room floor from sheer exhaustion. Grant had transformed himself into a metaphoric "runaway train" of consumption in a biting critique of man's inherent greed. At the end of the performance, the artist literally had to be carried up the stairs and put ino his own bed, too spent to even change out of his costume.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Itsy Bitsy Spider
This is one of the artist's earliest video works. Like a Mauri warrior, he squares off with the viewer, shouting the lyrics to a children's song. Through posture and tone the artist subverts the traditional relationship of the child performing for the adult; instead of cuteness there is ferocity, instead of entertainment we find fear. We do not wish to pinch his cheek, but hope that he will not pinch ours.
Monday, October 30, 2006
The artist makes no attempt at naturalistic representation. The trunk is a hurried brown elipse; the foliage nothing more than a slash of green, almost an afterthought. Grant is clearly only interested in conveying the extreme pokiness of his subject. The branches are violent slashes; the crayon dripping with emotion. Haunting.
Grant is obviously channeling Jackson Pollock's Number Seven in this drawing. Does the ladder in the title refer to the ladder Pollock employed in creating his paintings, dripping and pouring paints from its heights? Or, could this be a commentary on Pollock's climb up the ladder of the art world and his fame, ego, and alcohol fueled destruction? Either way, the young artist has out-pollocked, Pollock.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
What's this a picture of?
-he traces the drawing with his finger, "it's a picture of this."
But what is it?
Are you saying it is art about art? Is it a metapainting?
-"I bet you can't lift me up!"
When it was pointed out that there are no visible bats in the painting, the artist explained, "You can't see the bats because they are sleeping behind the painting." The bats are sleeping behind the painting. Grant, having resolved the two dimensional plane of the work with a furious series of monochromatic strokes, addresses the space behind the work. Lucio Fontana attempted to bring this same space to our attention by puncturing the actual canvas, Grant punctures our understanding with a single sentence.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I spent several days last week in New York, searching through the galleries of Chelsea and Williamsburg for some piece of art that would move me, and then I came home to this.
After World War II the center of the art world shifted from Paris to New York. I believe my friends, that we are about to witness it shift to Olympia, WA.
Monday, October 23, 2006
I spoke with Grant yesterday, and it seems the new art will be posted soon. In fact he has promised that we will love it, because, "you haven't seen anything like this before!"
Thursday, October 12, 2006
In the past few weeks I have received a slew of negative letters regarding my recent statements in Art in America that Grant is the greatest artist working today, if not the most important artist in recent history. I have been accused of being incapable of separating my role as a contemporary art commentator from my role as a father (of the greatest artist of our time). I think this drawing does more to defend my views than anything I might write (as brilliant as it might be).
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
What is "it": that is the question. We know "it" twists and is also capable of shooking, but what happens when it does? No answer is given.
A unique iconography seems to be developing in the young artist's work. Disembodied heads, blank eyes, swirling masses, and anthropomorphic pigs populate his drawings like remnants of half-forgotten dreams. Grant clearly owes a debt to the surealists, but his art seems to be more directly influenced by the urban art scene of today.
Monday, October 09, 2006
"The bus is bibrating, that means it's getting smaller." The Magic Schoolbus spins in a red blur in the upper left portion of the page as a green monster watches apprehensively. What "action" will the school bus bring? The monster appears to be clutching a purse to his chest. Will the bus attempt to rob him? Grant identifies the red arabesque at the bottom right as a "number panic", perhaps that is a clue. The monster is green, he is finance incarnate. He clutches a change purse to his chest symbolizing greed. He is menaced by the specter of a gallows to his right as a "number panic" closes in. What seems to be the source of all this upheaval?- a school bus. Clearly, the artist feels that shrinking education budgets will somehow cause the stock market to crash. Don't go selling your stocks or anything though, he's only three, what does he know about the market? Or education budgets for that matter. Plus, that really doesn't even make any sense if you think about it. The kid's in preschool for Pete's sake, he shouldn't be commenting on the financial world in the first place. I'm going to go give him a time-out.
*I know it looks yellow on here, but I swear he is green in the original.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
This is the artist's first known mixed-media piece. A figure flanked by a puma and a bear grins, his gaze hidden behind a stamp placed on his face. Is this actually a cyclops, Polyphemus perhaps, the stamp over the eye a metaphor for his blinding at the hands of Odysseus? Does the bear at his feet act as a stand in for the giant's treasured flock of sheep? When asked for some sort of insight into this enigmatic work, Grant explained, "Candy is tasty".
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Grant and I were trying to decide who liked the color blue more. Grant explained, "I'm hungry for blue. I am going to eat it tomorrow. It's like frosting." Defeated, I said I would settle for green. "Green is like climbing a wall", he added.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
"Weltschmerz" is the word Grant uses to describe the emotion caught on our time traveling friend's face. Having seen what humanity has to offer through the ages, he is unimpressed and world-weary. His blank eyes convey an ennui magnified by the realization that he can never truly go home.
This is a drawing about a man who opened a door full of paint. The paint is the swirling orange mass in the upper left corner. You'll notice how perfectly the artist has captured the look of surprise and consternation on the man's face as he takes in the situation. There is no escape from his messy orange fate.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
This is Grant's favorite drawing. It is Thomas the Tank Engine barreling down the track. You'll notice how Grant intentionally used crude lines and distorted the form to suggest energy and motion, capturing Thomas at his most dynamic. He tore up his first few attempts, the draftsmenship was impeccable, but he felt they were too static. I think he just needed a nap. Kids!