Monday, July 3, 2017

Kerry James Marshall at MOCA Los Angeles


Marshall absorbs narrative painting's more modern languages, e.g.: illustration, comics, advertising. Using commercial clarity to sharpen images to iconic while not relinquishing the subtly, slipperiness or open-endedness that the commercial trades for bluntness. Midnight black of KJM's figures slides between transparent ghosts, starkly visible, and shared tone blurring its figures, aptly analogizing the (America's) paradoxical black body: Invisible Man, vivid targets, everyone fitting the description, everywhere and invisible. It would be stupid to call it not painterly, but it lacks the masturbatory juice that the painterly usually entails, far too fastidious, serious even, for that, trading the painterly for the power of an image well constructed, Marshall's wild inventiveness in making paintings that want to be so clearly seen.