Mark Grotjahn: Dancing Black Butterflies (Small version)


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Mark Grotjahn: Dancing Black Butterflies  documents, with no text, the drawing Untitled (Dancing Black Butterflies) that was created in nine parts. This is a pocket-sized version in an accordion-style format.

Living in Los Angeles in the mid 1990s, Grotjahn began working on a stream of densely worked pencil drawings, followed by oil paintings, which focused on perspective investigations such as dual and multiple vanishing points, techniques used since the Renaissance to create the illusion of depth and volume on a two-dimensional surface. Grotjahn's formalist compositions of complex, skewed angles and radiant, tonal color allude to the multiple narratives coursing through the history of modernist painting, from the utopian vision of Russian constructivism to the hallucinatory images of Op art. The extreme elegance of the works is tempered by processual scuffs and markings that introduce a sense of contingency into the otherwise highly controlled compositions.

While at first glance Grotjahn's oeuvre seems bound to purely aesthetic issues in modernist discourse, references to nature and movement are plentiful. His butterfly motif, one of several recurring connections to the natural world, along with flowers and water, has yielded extensive possibilities in both drawing and painting. Nature and culture merge in the Butterflydrawings, where groupings of vibrant, multicolored triangles are anchored to gently sloping, vertical lines. Resembling abstract butterfly wings, the works call to mind the butterfly effect, introduced by a mathematician and meteorologist in the 1960s, and maintains that the subtlest movement of a butterfly's wings could eventually cause a tornado to appear – a ready analogy, perhaps, to Grotjahn's quietly provocative experiments within the history of abstraction.

To this end, Untitled (Dancing Black Butterflies) pursues the butterfly motif to its ultimate formal and historical conclusion, the rainbow-hued "wings" pared back to elementary black. These sequential drawings follow the subtle shifts in movement of forms, suggesting a performative aspect to his work.

- Hardcover, accordion-style format
- 18 pages, 3.25 x 4.5 inches
-Ilustrated in full color, no text.
- 2015

SKU: 36738

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Mark Grotjahn: Dancing Black Butterflies