Friday, July 17, 2009

The Overlook

Another short post on a contemporary artist drawing imaginary landscapes: Frank Magnotta.  According to Dominic Molon in Vitamin D, Magnotta's drawings reflect 'the staggeringly constant turnover of the contemporary American landscape in the past fifty years, resulting from the heightened cycles of real estate development and relentless urban gentrification' leading to 'a national sense of perpetual unsettledness'.  Many of these feature architectural fantasies set against an empty background, like Post (2007), which can be seen accompanying an interview in Fecal Face magazine, where Magnotta says 'in the U.S. I'm not sure that we really build monuments any more, but in a way popular culture is the great ephemeral American monument. I'm interested in giving form to that.'

Sometimes he'll draw in a surreal landscape background, as in the recent Grand Optimist. In The Overlook (2004) buildings are entierly absent.  This drawing 'features a vast snowy landscape with such phrases as as HERITAGE HILLS, CRYSTAL LAKE, and GOLDEN ROSE placed at various points within the image.  Divorced from the assumed villaages that the phrases herald, the names become empty signifiers, meaningless ascriptions of perceived exclusivity and privelege that speak more to our desire for the trappings of wealth and prestige than the actual ability of language or objects to provide such bounty' (Dominic Molon).

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