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Paul Sietsema
Matthew Marks Gallery, West Hollywood, California
Recommendation by Michael Shaw

Paul Sietsema, "Green painting," 2016, enamel on linen, 51 1/2 x 47 7/8"

Continuing through December 23, 2016

If there were a never-ending race over the arc of art history to achieve the best tromp l'oeil, Paul Sietsema would currently hold the lead. In this, a consideration of style is key. In his case, this isn't mere photorealism, and yet, Sietsema executes with such an understated tour de force that this precision grounds our overall impression. The paintings and drawings (there are also two projected film loops) are immersed in the tricks and contradictions of representation. Even "Green painting," an enamel on linen which initially appears to be an abstraction, is actually a depiction of a skein of forest green paint, a chorus of gouges, crinklings and separations rendered with staggering craft. "Telephone painting," featuring a white rotary-dial phone with detached receiver, coil and a curled cord, as seen from above and lightly floating in its own 'pool’ of a matte enamel background (perhaps the 'rug' on which the 'pool' lies), is a personal favorite.

There's something conceptually bracing about the circuitousness of vintage technology depicted with vintage materials in the context of the hyper-digital present. But first and foremost it's a poetically beautiful object. And indeed, it is a parade of poetically beautiful objects that make up this solo show. If there's a weakness, it's that there's too much art for art's sake; despite references to money and commerce throughout, they're oblique and buried safely under their object-hood, though in one piece content makes itself known, if inadvertently. In "Vertical newspaper (thin green line)," Sietsema faithfully re-creates in pen a New York Times 'Jobs' ad which asks, "Where do you see yourself in five years?.” On it Sietsema has illusionistically be-splotched a passage of his signature coins-covered-in-paint. It's a spot-on response to the most clichéd (and aggravating) career question there is.

Published Courtesy of ArtSceneCal ©2016

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