Carroll Dunham at Blum & Poe

Carroll Dunham A Wrestling Place (4), 2016-2017 Mixed media on linen 51 1/8 x 66 x 1 5/16 inches. Photo: David Regen, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo.

Carroll Dunham at Blum & Poe

By Sara Fortson 

Through June 17th


On display now at Blum & Poe is a collection of new work by Carroll Dunham that features drawings as well as paintings in his unique stylized nudity.  The exhibition showcases four different types of work that are all cohesive and tell a sort of scattered narrative.  Included are paintings called Self-Examination, a series called A Wrestling Place, pencil on linen drawings called The Golden Age, and portrait paintings of the featured characters in profile in what the gallery calls The Wrestler Suite.  All of the work features the same cast of wrestlers, and is each tells a different part of the characters’ story.

The profiled portraits portray the subjects with all their injured glory.  All four areas of the exhibition feature wrestling as its main theme, and in this section we get to meet the wrestlers.  Though they are facing away from the viewer, there’s still a vulnerability to them.  The wrestlers are identical to one another, with the only thing distinguishing them as individual works and personas is the background color and the variation in bruises and scars.

Carroll Dunham Self Examination (4), 2016-2017 Mixed media on linen 55 1/16 x 44 1/16 x 1 5/16 inches. Photo: David Regen, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo.

The Self-Examination series shows a male bodies contorted in a way that makes the viewer the subject looking down at their own anatomy.  These paintings show an innocent wonder at discovering your own body, and though they are graphic in their nudity there is an innocence and clinical exploration about them.

The rough drawings collectively called The Golden Age could be studies of the larger paintings, but stand their own ground amongst the large and brightly colored paintings.  They are intimate and have a gentle strength of their own. These drawings are also the first thing you see when entering the space, which is expansive and full of light, and are the perfect introduction the body of work as a whole.

The Wrestling Place series shows the big picture view of what they other works are hinting at.  We see the wrestlers in their element and not unlike Dunham’s other work, there is still a sexuality about these scenes.  Everything is painting and drawn in Dunham’s signature childlike style that dulls the vulgarity a bit.  Dunham’s work is always graphic, but the stylization and use of color makes them more animated than pornographic.

These works offer up an exploration rather than an exploitation of the human body in motion.  A series of male nudes depicted as athletes is a refreshing take on the traditional artistic nude body that is typically portrayed.  Dunham’s work on display at Blum & Poe does not disappoint fans of his distinctive style and is a fresh glimpse into an alternate examination of the male gaze.

Carroll Dunham at Blum & Poe is on display until June 17, 2017

Blum & Poe is located at 2727 La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034.

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