Installation view of Mark Grotjahn’s Pink Cosco exhibi on at Gagosian Grosvenor Hill gallery, June 24 — September 17, 2016 © Mark Grotjahn. Courtesy the ar st and Gagosian Gallery. Installa on photography: Mike Bruce

Mark Grotjahn’s Pink Cosco at Gagosian

“I called some paintings perspectives but I’m not interested in perspective; I called some butterflies but I don’t think they are butterflies; I call my sculptures masks but they are not masks.” — Mark Grotjahn

We are on back-to-school mode. The new season is on and tremendous shows are coming up. However, Mark Grotjahn’s Pink Cosco exhibition at Gagosian Gallery opened last June 24 and it has had little press attention to my surprise. Mark Grotjahn (b. 1968, Pasadena, CA) is a hot ticket. He counts as one of the most expensive American contemporary artists in the secondary market. I suspect the excitement of the new is going to take over and you will be going to new shows but please, please, please, go and see Pink Cosco. It ends in a couple of weeks, on September 17.

Mark Grotjahn, Untitled (Pink Cosco I Mask M40.a), 2015 Painted bronze 59 1/2 x 33 1/4 x 36 1/2 inches 151.1 x 84.5 x 92.7 cm © Mark Grotjahn. Photo by Douglas M. Parker Studio
Mark Grotjahn, Untitled (Yellow Cosco II Mask M40.l), 2016 Painted bronze 59 1/2 x 33 1/4 x 36 1/2 inches 151.1 x 84.5 x 92.7 cm © Mark Grotjahn. Photo by Douglas M. Parker Studio

The series of sculptural paintings got their name from a Cosco-branded cardboard box laying in Grotjahn’s studio. The nine works at the gallery are cast in bronze, including an attached tube as nose and are painted with a predominant yellow or acid pink colour palette. Grotjahn acknowledges in interviews and in the titles of his works references to art history masters as well as to readily available influences from his immediate environment.

They look rather ugly. They are not as refined as Captain America or the butterfly series. However, these masks command space. These masks stand proud. The cast bronze sculptures retain the undulating and grainy quality of cardboard. The powerful chaos of smudged paint is a decided reminder of Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionism. The allusion to masks is inseparable from Picasso’s use of African features. The appropriation of the cardboard box is a wink to Mike Kelley’s way of incorporating found objects in the creation of art.

Pink Cosco series go further than a reference to different periods in art history. They stand between figuration and abstraction. They play an ambiguous status between sculpture and painting. They tease the viewer with signs of the ephemeral and the disposable and yet they command an authoritative presence as formal objects.

Iconic. Don’t miss.

Originally published at