Monday, March 7, 2011

Maybe not the Woerst of 2010, entry #?: Alex Olson @ Lisa Cooley

Alex Olson’s epic squiggle fail at Lisa Cooley last September (a not-quite-acerbic showcase of forced whimsy) summoned the mild style of a young graphic designer with a heavy interest in Beat Happening album covers and raw denim.

While Olson might be convinced that she’s walking a viewer through the construction of a painting, and conjuring linguistic games along the way, “As a Verb, As a Noun, In Peach and Silver” actually has magnificently demonstrated the collective amnesia that exists regarding the work of Cy Twombly and Bernard Frize! (Not to mention Olson’s own lack of consideration for the reasoning behind developments during the past 60 or-so years of abstraction on both sides of the Atlantic.)

The crusts have been cut off, snooze button is being hit. Have you ever shopped at APC? Well, this is sort of the same. Dapper French vocab gets reduced to a smooth neutral: digestible and svelte with quirky corners. The unified color palate and recycled sets of moves that limp throughout Olson’s show is totes ready-to-wear Mercer Street hegemony.

It’s fey painting with blinders on, the Peter Pan collar of painting. Clunky marks attempt shy incisiveness, but instead splish-splash in the kiddie pool of Krebber-Lite. Take one home, hang it next to your books that are arranged in color order. Have some friends over, wrap yourself in your Hudson’s Bay blanket, debate washing your New Standards…

Arranging alchemically dry gestures, (not commanding or complex enough to really be slights of hand) Olson gives us painting inside itself- a land where signifiers are so open that they sit stalled out in neutral, referring really only to their own safe petit-bourgeois sensibility. Simultaneously tepid and arrogant, Olson’s decorative, self-satisfying twee formalism employs semiotics as a ruse for content, proposing that the journey IS the destination. But, what a brief, bland trip it’s been.

Delicate taste neutering the potential for interesting art is nothing new, it’s just kind of a major bummer when how a magnetic poetry jam between Olson, Prekop and Molzan would play out is the only question you leave the gallery wondering…

Score: 3 Red Velvet Brastch Wursts with cream cheese frosting from Magnolia.


  1. If only there was any collective amnesia about cy twombly and bernard frize. I dont think thats an issue and I dont think historical consciousness always needs to be writ large. I dont see Krebber at all here either, people can overestimate his influence. Fautrier, on the other hand, is certainly a precedent.


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