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
Justin Almquist, new works
Claes Oldenburg, N.Y.C. Pretzel
Andy Warhol, an autographed issue
15.08.2017 – 08.11. 2017