Rodney Graham | Lights, Camera, and Quiet Contemplation

On View Now at Lisson Gallery Los Angeles

Written by

Bennett DiDonna

Photographed by

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Rodney Graham. Actor / Director, 1954, 2013. Backlit diptych Two painted aluminum lightboxes with transmounted chromogenic transparencies. Each panel 91.6 x 71.7 x7 © Rodney Graham; Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

On view now at Lisson Gallery in Los Angeles, Rodney Graham: Paintings and Lightboxes, explores the Canadian conceptual artist's rich multi-disciplinary practice. The exhibition features two distinct bodies of Graham's work; large format abstract paintings and absurdist-tinged photographic self-portraits illuminated on lightboxes, which meld together, forming a surrealist scene that captures the artist’s emphasis on narrative and world building. 

Rodney Graham: Paintings and Lightboxes, features work created in the final years of the artist’s life before his passing in 2022. Throughout his nearly 50 year artistic journey, Graham explored the mediums of photography, film, music, performance and painting, oftentimes drawing inspiration from and playing with the output of contemporaries across arts and culture.

Rodney Graham. Tattooed Man on Balcony, 2018. Painted aluminum lightbox with transmounted chromogenic transparency. Installed: Each panel: 278.6 x 164.2 109 5/8 x64 5/8 x 7 in. © Rodney Graham; Courtesy Lisson Galley

Of the work on display, Graham’s lightboxes capture himself as characters in scenes as diverse as a tattooed construction worker perched on a balcony smoking, staring longingly at the viewer. In another, Graham is seen directing a period film, dressed in Versailles appropriate wares. These are two of some forty lightboxes the artist created during his career, including his Four Seasons series. 

With a similar layered approach, rich with fragments of contemporary culture, Graham’s painting practice began in earnest in the early 2000s. Beginning with existing source paintings, with works from the likes of Aleksandr Rodchenko, Jean Arp, Morris Louis, and Pablo Picasso, Graham builds and borrows and rearranges, creating a dialogue within the cubist abstract retro tinges works.

Rodney Graham. Untitled, 2022. Oil and sand on linen 72 x 60 inches. © Rodney Graham; Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

Rodney Graham: Paintings and Lightboxes is on view now through March 30th at Lisson Gallery in Los Angeles.

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