Daniel Gordon is the garbagey Matisse of Google Images, painting exotic still lifes and portraits out of cultural detritus. They are lush and overgrown with photographic texture, pattern and color. The photographic element of both the materials being photographed and the final clean surface of his prints cool the images down, cementing them far outside the realm of kitsch. His newest series, The Green Line, is a glimpse into a charmingly slapstick hot glue paradise, and its title is a nod to Matisse’s famed 1905 portrait of his wife.
This work had a huge presence at Frieze New York art fair this spring in Wallspace Gallery’s booth, and was far and away the freshest photography on view at the fair. Concurrently, The Green Line is installed at M+B Gallery in Los Angeles. The prints are vibrantly immaculate in person, and the scale of them varies widely. A monograph called Still Lifes, Portraits and Parts is also forthcoming from ever on-point London-based Morel Books. Clearly, Gordon is on fire.
I visited his studio a couple of years ago, and this experience forever colors the way I see his work. Gordon’s Brooklyn workspace is reached by going up five flights of stairs through the dark, cat-laden apartment of a neighbor and up a narrow spiral staircase. In a style usually reserved for the homes of serial killers or very experimental taxidermists, his floor is littered with bits of people’s flesh—arms and eyelashes and stringy mats of hair mingle with lemon rinds and lobster claws. The body parts are so abundant you can’t help but step on them.
Gordon’s approach is more like painting than anything else, but instead of paint he uses Google Images as a palette, printing photographic swatches out of a cheap 8.5 x 11 inkjet printer and brutally mashing them into three-dimensional tableaux which are then photographed with a 4×5 view camera. The pieces are recycled off the floor and reconfigured into different pictures, so two portraits may share the same lips or eyeball. This is a smart way to work, because the paint Gordon is using is rich with implications and cultural connotations. Besides this advantage, it looks like he might be having a lot of fun.
The Green Line is on view at M+B Gallery in Los Angeles through June 29, 2013.
Feature Shoot Contributing Editor Matthew Leifheit is an independent writer, curator, and photographer based in New York City.
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