Justin Almquist, new works
Claes Oldenburg, N.Y.C. Pretzel
Andy Warhol, an autographed issue
15.08.2017 – 08.11. 2017
The show contains 6 new works by artist Justin Almquist, born 1976, he lives and works in Los Angeles, he studied in the US and Germany and returned to the US recently.
These new works, he made after his return to LA, are the core of the show and will be featured by one multiple of Claes Oldenburg and an autographed Interview issue from Andy Warhol. The works chosen for the show are supporting a sublime attitude towards american art and share a similar state of mind, as Justin Almquist quotes: these pieces all have a “pedestrian, vernacular quality” an intellectual sub- or pop cultured influenced contemporary folk art.
ANMO is pleased to announce it’s second show of six new works by Justin Almquist, a multiple by Claes Oldenburg and a signed edition of Interview Magazine by Andy Warhol.
Sarah Zimmermann: ANMO, why did you choose to place these artists together?
ANMO: It was an intuitive process, but when we saw Justin’s recent paintings, especially Pancake City, the wheels started rolling.
SZ: Justin, tell us about Pancake City.
Justin Almquist: Hmmm. The initial idea came from a lot of driving around in cars at dusk. Plastic. Plexiglass with cheap graphics and text. Glossy and matte surfaces. Who wouldn’t want to live in a Pancake City?
SZ: You described them to me as paintings when in essence they are reliefs.
JA: If you break it down like that, yes. For me they are a combination of the three practices I’m most interested in. Painting, drawing and sculpture. They’re a sandwich of ideas I’d been throwing around without committing to any of them.
SZ: ANMO, why Claes Oldenburg? Why Andy Warhol? These are quite famous names, and artists with much exposure. Haven’t we seen enough of these two?
ANMO: True. That’s one way of looking at it. Still, their names came to mind, once again, after having seen Justin’s recent paintings. It wasn’t the look of Justin’s paintings but rather the feel and approach, the way in which they were made that helped us make the connection. With Oldenburg the association was clearer. The humor for example. With Warhol, it was more subtle. We aren’t showing a Warhol painting after all, we’re showing a signed publication which is a very different thing.
SZ: Would you mind elaborating?
ANMO: Well, it’s a magazine. This has a less exclusive quality, something that can be accessed by many. Also, a magazine makes a lot of promises but rarely delivers. It’s more about the aura of it. Having it around brings you closer to this intangible ‘thing’. Very much the way a sign functions. Which brings us back to Justin’s paintings. I don’t know exactly, one makes these associations, we’re getting into some very ethereal territory…
SZ: Thank you ANMO, thanks Justin for this brief introduction. Shall we move on to the press release?
ANMO: Let’s do this!
JA: I think I need a drink!
Almquist, having recently relocated to Los Angeles and facing an alienating initial phase there, soon began to re-use former stumbling blocks from past work, (papier mâché) to explore new avenues with the same materials.
At first glance, one could consider Almquist’s paintings as goofy interpretations of what a painting is physically, the act of applying liquid to a flat surface and letting it dry. Upon closer inspection, however, one finds an idea of a painting, circumventing traditional materials and the burdened framework that that often comes with it. While driving around a city that is best seen at 30 mph, one might glimpse signs that require such prompt interpretations. As the title in one painting suggests, Pancake City, piled-up tower-like figures embedded in yellow paint appear as skyscrapers in a land of plenty, where the promise of food is available anywhere, anytime, day or night.
The drawings, each containing different subject matter, concern themselves with possible daily goings on about town, real or imagined. Taking shape in the form(s) of a vampiric wristwatch-a constant reminder of time sucked out of one’s veins while sitting in traffic. A slow death goes unnoticed while clothed in the latest trend. An atypical American bather in a Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ bikini bottom on her cell phone (topless!). Finally, abstract shapes with punctuation; learning the new language of a new town.
The idea of an art that has a more pedestrian vernacular, ever-present in Almquist’s art, corresponds to Oldenburg‘s N.Y.C. Pretzel (apropos food day or night) and Warhol‘s Interview Magazine in their analogous approaches to a desirable relationship between art and the world. Similar to the passersby that might peek inside ANMO accidentally and thereby –willingly or not- enter into a dialogue with the show.
“Everything that I would get hold of, I would try to turn into a metaphor, to suggest other things than what it really was“ says Claes Oldenburg (Walker Art Center 2013). Be it a giant lipstick on caterpillar tracks or an ice cream cone, dropped onto a shopping mall, the commonplace drama comes along with size. With N.Y.C. Pretzel Oldenburg adapts and stages a popular daily snack. Being a multiple, it reflects presence and absence of the other pretzels.
As rumor would have it, Andy Warhol used to hand out signed copies of Interview Magazine while wallflower-ing away at parties. Lucky for ANMO, one found it’s way into their hands. The issue shown here from autumn 1985, presents Arnold Schwarzenegger on the cover. By that point in his career, Schwarzenegger had ceased being a person and had, at that point, become merely a symbol of one. Some abstract ideal to identify with. Similar to Oldenburg‘s N.Y.C. Pretzel, Schwarzenegger‘s portrait on the cover of Interview Magazine is a multiplied version of a subject that simulates original existence.
These works stand for an art that takes place within society, not on top of it. Similarly, as these pieces emphasize, art takes place among people, establishing relations, reacting to them and affecting them. Justin Almquist, Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol are representatives of a decidedly egalitarian, anti-elitist American Art that is communicative and catchy enough to attract attention.
Sarah Zimmermann & Justin Almquist
>Inter View< Artworks
Justin Almquist, Pancake City, 2016, papier mâché and paint on wood, 46 x 36 cm
Justin Almquist, Emptied Orange (Beat Mirror for A.G.) 2017, papier mâché and paint on wood, 57 x 38 cm
Justin Almquist, Up All Night, 2016, papier mâché, paint and ink, 26.5 x 41cm
Justin Almquist, 3,2,1. (Cease to exist) 2016, pencil, watercolor and gouache on paper, framed, 26 x 18 cm
Justin Almquist, Los Angeles Wristwatch 2015, pencil, watercolor and gouache on paper, framed, 18 x 18 cm
Justin Almquist, Unusual American Bather (In Europe), 2016, pencil, watercolor, gouache and collage on paper, framed, 30.5 x 22.5 cm
Andy Warhol, autographed Interview Magazine issue 1985, Marker on print magazine, 42.5 x 27.5 cm
Claes Oldenburg, N.Y.C. Pretzel 1994, screenprint in colors on corrugated cardboard, 152 × 152 × 13 mm