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Mark Grotjahn (b. 1968)
Mark Grotjahn (b. 1968)

Untitled Butterfly (Black + cream-cicle) #682

Details
Mark Grotjahn (b. 1968)
Untitled Butterfly (Black + cream-cicle) #682
signed twice, titled and dated 'UNtitled ButterFLY (BLACK+CREAM-CICLE) #682 2007 Mark Grotjahn July Summer 2007 FOR THUN' (on the reverse)
coloured pencil on paper in artist's frame
71½ x 47¾in. (181.9 x 121.6cm.)
Executed in 2007
Provenance
Blum & Poe, Los Angeles.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2008.
Exhibited
Thun, Kunstmuseum Thun, Mark Grotjahn, 2007 (illustrated in colour, p. 17).

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Alice de Roquemaurel
Alice de Roquemaurel

Lot Essay

'Grotjahn's abstractions are, in relation to traditional pictorial modes, a matter of having your cake and eating it too, of experiencing vertiginous spatial illustions only to be brought back to the level ground of modernist flatnessonly then to have the picture plane once again yield to the probing eye...' (R. Storr, quoted in 'La Push-Pull/Po-Mo-Stop-Go', Mark Grotjahn, exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery, London 2009, pp. 4-5).

Executed in 2007, Untitled Butterfly (Black + cream-cicle) #682, is a spellbinding, monochromatic example of Mark Grotjahn\as celebrated 'Butterfly' series, which is centred on his iconic radiant motif, examples of which are held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York. Fusing past and present through his conflation of hard-edged modernism and off-kilter Renaissance perspective, he evokes a spiritual response from the viewer. Grotjahn straddles the polarities of artifice and nature in this seminal work through his reference to butterflies and artificial straight lines which in this particular work are punctuated with intentional human imperfections.

A razor sharp jet black line splits the canvas dramatically on the vertical, slicing the vanishing point using perspective as skewed logic. Projecting asymmetrically from this point, propeller-like blades radiate outwards, alluding to notions of light, space and religiosity which harness the sense of the metaphysical. The skewed geometry subverts the stark precision of modernism, alluding to multiple narratives throughout the history of modernism from Barnett Newman's monumental stripes to Kazimir Malevich's white on white compositions. A visually powerful emblem, Robert Storr further expounds this idea saying 'Grotjahn's abstractions are, in relation to traditional pictorial modes, a matter of having your cake and eating it too, of experiencing vertiginous spatial illustions only to be brought back to the level ground of modernist flatness-only then to have the picture plane once again yield to the probing eye...' (R. Storr, quoted in 'La Push-Pull/Po-Mo-Stop-Go', Mark Grotjahn, exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery, London 2009, pp. 4-5).

Exquisitely rendered in ivory black coloured pencil set atop an effused cream ground, the beveled lines create an almost planar composition and endow the work with the sublime diversity of hue, texture, and tone. In spite of the minimalist palette, the lustre of the meticulously hand-crafted theatrical black lines vibrate and oscillate, offering further comparison with the heroic work of Newman. The viewer, in front of this awe-inspiring painting, is instantly enveloped and drawn into the vortex of mysticism that enshrouds the work, almost forcing contemplation and reflection.

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