Marlborough is pleased to present Laundered Paintings, a group of new works by New York artist Lucas Ajemian. Made by treating, soaking and machine-washing other artists’ paintings in his neighborhood laundromat, the series embodies Ajemian’s ongoing conceptual investigation into ideas of authorship, relative value and transaction, and the reductive/destructive gesture as a generative act.
Acquiring a work from another artist’s studio, an agreement is reached for a transfer of authorship that requires both a relinquishing and an assertion of control. The laundering process obscures the source material, but can’t quite obliterate it—both physically and conceptually. Through this process and exchange, Ajemian is able to interrogate conventions of painting and studio practice. The removal of pigment becomes a kind of perverse facture (as well as its critique) where the host work is, in Ajemian’s words, “worn in” rather than worn down.
In the most active and interventionist phase of the process, single canvases are sometimes cut up and made into multiple works; or re-stretched in ways that reveal horizon lines and margins of untouched canvas; flipped upside down, sideways and reversed adding a sculptural dimension that deemphasizes the pictorial without lapsing into mere structural critique.
Paradoxically, Ajemian is ultimately presented with many of the same aesthetic challenges, and weight of history that faced the maker of the original painting: namely, how to negotiate what came before, how far to push the process, and when to stop.
Anonymous, Julien Bismuth, Mike Bouchet, Edgar Bryan, Matthew Chambers, Anna Craycroft, Tim Harrington, Katja Holtz, David Kerr, Dani Levine, Nate Lowman, Frank Magnotta, Dean Monogenis, Dana Schutz, Cheyney Thompson