Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Erik Lindman, House Wine, House Music, at V&A [Review]


Erik Lindman, 17 days, 17 long nights... but slow, 2008, at V&A New York.

It would be easy to dismiss Erik Lindman's latest paintings at V&A based simply on their titles. Obliquely referencing the early 1980's of Joe Yellow, Martin Rev, Alan Vega, and Prince, they imply a trendy pop culture nostalgia that belies work that is actually confident, sophisticated, and alluring.  

Shadazz (2008) and 17 days... (2008) define the two extremes of his practice, the former (Suicide reference) washed in blues that suggest the hazy passages of Nozkowski's recent paintings, the latter (Prince title) building diverse layers: fine splatters - sprinkles - first, then sweeping green and yellow strokes, and finally white concentric circles, which generate a near-compendium of painting techniques.  Joe yellow just took my heart by making it to the top 100 follows a similar format but concludes with quick neon sprays of color near the top and a weathered, burgundy heptagon that covers most of the work.  It could be a disco-infused Robert Mangold.  

In each case, one gets the impression that Lindman has buried and obscured dozens of layers that are only barely legible in the finished paintings; his painting is studied and nimble enough that it's not always clear how exactly he's constructed his art.  Not all of the titles are so abstruse, it seems important to mention here: the lone print for sale in House Wine, House Music, which photographically captures his clever use of nebulous color fields, is titled Fountain.  That should be a clue to the real scale of Lindman's ambition.