Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Aesthetic Fun House

After spending admittedly a short time viewing Ryan McGinness Aesthetic Comfort, I feel I spent part of my afternoon at an amusement park instead of an art museum. This may have something to do with having to navigate through the holiday crowds at the Cincinnati Art Museum or the fact that I brought my four year old son to see these paintings. But I’ve visited many crowded museums and have taken both of my children to art galleries from the time they were six months old so I think the vibrant if not psychotic energy in the gallery rests with McGinness’ paintings.

More than a fun house, the gallery filled with fluorescent designs spilling from various canvasses onto the walls and glowing under a black light recalls the psychedelic aesthetic of the 60s and 70s. Though most writers instead link McGinness to Warhol because of his use of commercial symbols and other motifs from everyday life. I suppose I recognized this, or would have if I was an Urban Outfitters consumer. (Is it me or am I showing my age with every sentence?)

But I did immediately notice the overlapping of imagery associated with the influence of the information age. This layering and linking of images that seemed random yet articulately patterned on various shaped canvasses reminded me of the Karla Hackenmiller’s Liminal Series I reviewed here a little over a week ago. McGuinness reveals in recognizable symbols the non-linear thought processes Hackenmiller explores in her Liminal Series.

I’m not sure how comfortable I am with what appears to be a shift in aesthetics, but I am enjoying watching artists explore it.


VisuaLingual said...

Also, I think his work very much shows the influences of Illustrator [the vector graphic program] and clip art, both obviously being very digital-oriented.

I thought the CAC's juxtaposition of work by McGinness and Charley Harper [Graphic Content] was interesting due to their superficial similarities and basic differences. Different tools, messages and moments in time, and yet you could say that the end result is fairly similar.