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jordan massengale at tachmes

Post #710 • January 17, 2006, 10:52 AM • 43 Comments

Can an artist have too much talent? I wonder as much regarding Jordan Massengale, presently showing work at Tachmes's homey new space through Feb. 28. Massengale can draw like an angel when called upon to do so, but the material that comes up in his work is distinctly samsaric. Low culture, violence, sex, and nutty randomness fill his imaginary landscapes. In his last works at Dorsch, he reached a crescendo of facility as he depicted animals in natural and unnatural habitats, looking elegant even as they gained ping pong ball eyes and scratchy hides of paint. Here, Massengale is trying to make a major pictorial statement: the multifigure composition, one of the toughest problems of figurative painting, even when approached with a contemporary attitude like this one. Talent makes such an attempt possible, and demands that the attempt be made. But Massengale has a phenomenal ability to discard past successes rather than build on them directly, making every other show that he has feel like he's reinventing the wheel.

I've written before that it's more interesting to watch Jordan screw up than to watch other artists succeed. He's not screwing up here, but I can feel the strain on his compositional abilities as he pushes his work towards greater complexity and import. He produced a good show and re-established himself as one of the major local talents. In time he'll start hitting the sweet spot again with his technique, and if he's still working this mode, the combination could prove eruptive.




January 17, 2006, 11:46 AM

Jordan has talent, all right, and I am willing to bet that these pictures, which fit right into current trends, will sell well and make him successful, but Jordan's real talent is painting, not illustration.


that guy

January 17, 2006, 11:53 AM

Although I'm sure George will say Jordan is in the hunt with this show. To which I'll say preemptively that I still don't know what he means by it. I was disappointed with this show. If anyone bothered to read the statement, it described his conflicted feelings about art. Suck it up Jordan and do what you are best at... make knockout pictures. This road isn't isn't a fruitful one, and reeks of the ilk that is German tend pop.



January 17, 2006, 1:03 PM

Franklin when did you change the site to



January 17, 2006, 1:10 PM

I have an undergraduate degree in illustration, and have never gotten down with the idea that art can be too illustration-like. Trying to distinguish the two is like trying to distinguish between art and non-art, and is equally fruitless. Except for this: illustration is art intended primarily for reproduction rather than exhibition. So by my understanding, the work here is not illustration.



January 17, 2006, 1:38 PM

#3 is not from me. I may comment in more detail later, but my reaction is in keeping with the general consensus so far.



January 17, 2006, 2:07 PM

I agree with you, Franklin. I did not mean to freight the term "illustration" with an implication of value, but it does look that way.

I meant to say that Jordan's talent lies with the liberal use and manipulation of paint, not with stuffing a picture with lots of meticulous realism.

These pictures are not well painted in detail and my guess is that he is supressing this "wild and wooly" talent of his in the interests of painting pictures with lots of unrelated things floating around in them, in the current "liepzig" manner, presumably to catch the coattails of a trend, although of course that is just speculation.



January 17, 2006, 3:22 PM

My first thought was less Leipzig than Koons: Gugu, Gogo, etc, etc.

Having never seen any of Massengale's or Koons's paintings in person, my internet-only assessment is that my eye enjoys travelling through and around Koons's images more.



January 17, 2006, 3:25 PM

i personally see a division between painting and illustration and i would categorize these works as illustration. i have noticed this blurred distinction a lot when viewing local shows, and have been consistently puzzled. this style does not appeal to me but i would like to research his other works to compare.



January 17, 2006, 3:38 PM

"Massengale can draw like an angel" ? Where ? I can not find a good drawing in the above 2 paintings, in fact I find them horrible bad. I did a Google search on his images and could not find very good drawings in that paintings either, not to speak on the Bonbon-colors...



January 17, 2006, 4:09 PM

They remind me of the murals in the childrens hospital.


that guy

January 17, 2006, 4:12 PM

Koon's paintings are worse; painted better but worse in spite of it.



January 17, 2006, 4:21 PM

Hey 'that guy' did you forget your glasses.
You can't be serious!!!!!!!



January 17, 2006, 4:22 PM

Forgot to mention that Jordan has a site.

Hans, you'll have to take my word for it. I've seen him at it for years and we teach at the same school.



January 17, 2006, 4:42 PM

The show was pretty lifeless. Jordan is a first rate painter when he uses his expressive talent/nature. Fenced in, an oil painting from the the Real painting show for example.



January 17, 2006, 4:47 PM

Anyone - just open the site Franklin linked just above and look at the skull painting. That's painting.

And if you want weird and wild and far out go look at the animal paintings. The new pix just don't compare.



January 17, 2006, 4:55 PM

Yea, the scull painting is a beauty !


that guy

January 17, 2006, 5:03 PM

Jaack, I figured you wouldn't be able to figure that one out. More explanation points next time would be of help, if only to get your point across better.


that guy

January 17, 2006, 5:06 PM

opps! exclamation points of course.



January 17, 2006, 5:18 PM

Dont get me wrong but I really like the old stuff (animals, etc) is very good , and real painting!!!!!!!!!! (checkout the site), but this new stuff just doesnt cut it.



January 17, 2006, 6:41 PM

I'm tempted to say more than I probably should, and I expect I've said enough in the past. The fact is that Jordan's a big boy, and his career is his business. The work in this show is marketable stuff, and it could well catch the eye of one or more of the local "majors." Hernan Bas is still hot, but he's no longer a new flavor, and it's no longer possible to get extra credit for "discovering" him or helping to make him a star(let). Somebody has to fill the void, and something always does.

This work is obviously more graphic than painterly, with lots of very saturated bright colors and a profusion of figures, animals and objects, meant to reflect "an increasingly noisy, cluttered and thus shrinking world" according to the artist's statement. There is a surrealist element involved: one piece with flying dogs made me think of a tropical Magritte, another (the weakest one) of Neo Rauch. The best piece (the lower one above) has many catchy bells and whistles, so to speak, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

His last show at Dorsch, while uneven, was meatier, stronger and much more interesting to me. I remember running across the skull pieces in Brook's back room a good while back and being impressed by them, but echoes of 17th century Spanish or Dutch painting are hardly the thing now, and Leipzig is. Jordan can draw, though this is not the best work to appreciate that. I have seen, again in the back room, drawings on paper which showed him to much better advantage, but I suppose it won't do to draw too well these days--it might look "elitist" or "academic," unless one introduces some sort of would-be clever or ironic twist, like John what's-his-name.

Anyway, there's certainly no law against wanting recognition and success, and this may be a way to get that. Again, it's Jordan's business.


John Whats His Name

January 17, 2006, 8:03 PM

O.k. I'd like to really discuss this point about commercialism that Jack seems to bring up. I mean these queries in the most naive way because I really want to understand the difference between "commercial" art and "Fine Art". What is it about Jordan's new work that makes them more easy to sell than say his show at Dorsch? Is it that these "look" like other artist that makes them fit a genre of work? If so is this a bad thing? What if this is the artist shared sensability? So long as he does his best at it and he and his audience are connected to it. Heck I love Edward Hopper despite the proliferation of $10.99 posters of his work. Doesn't the avant garde eventually become the norm? So why not celebrate the norm and the new stuff with as much gusto? If it looks good(subjective?)then who cares about commercial and non commercial? Help me out folks. As far as this show, I think of it like this: The Beatles were great, but we all have a favorite album. And who was it that said that his drawings are bad?!?! ARe you inSAne!!??



January 17, 2006, 8:49 PM

There is no way to do more than presume about Jordan's intentions, John. Yes, his work has new characteristics that make it fit in with a popular current trend that is selling well. To my eye these characteristics show Jordan painting in a meticulously realistic way that precludes the all-out painterly methods which form his best work. I will go so far as to say that this work amounts to a supression of his talent. It looks as if he is doing it to get on board the trend, but who knows. Others will feel differently.



January 17, 2006, 9:07 PM

There is nothing necessarily or intrinsically bad or inferior about art that sells well, just as there is nothing necessarily or intrinsically good or superior about art that sells less or not at all. Popularity and obscurity may both be deserved, or not. It all depends on why something does or does not sell (and to whom), and on why something is or is not popular (and with whom).

I'd never say an artist who's rich and famous is somehow suspect because of that success. Stardom and success can be quite legitimate, or not. I'd never say an artist who's ignored or dismissed is bound to be really talented, let alone a misunderstood genius. It always depends on the individual case. Commercial failure may be justified, or not.

There's nothing inherently wrong with marketability, per se. Good work ought to be marketable, though it may not be--the audience in question, of course, is critical. Bad work can certainly be marketable to a suitable audience, but poor marketability may, in fact, mean the work is poor. It all depends.


moustache anear

January 17, 2006, 10:52 PM

" It looks as if he is doing it to get on board the trend"

gosh, that is so damn cynical. it pains me to read it.

and you are a teacher?
How can you be so presumptuous about an artist's motives?
another big disappointing judgement by oldpro.

real painter indeed......



January 17, 2006, 11:01 PM

Thank you for coming to my exhibition and for the commentary.
When Getrude Stein said that "A rose is a rose is a rose" what she implied is that a 'painting is a painting is a painting' .
I'll leave it at that.



January 17, 2006, 11:36 PM

Moustache, instead of willfully caricaturing what Oldpro is saying, try contributing some original thought of your own.

Jordan's route has always been circuitous - I expect the next cycle of painting to resemble the Leipzig group not at all, and speculations regarding its influence on him will become moot. I think his technique flattened out because he was working on complexity, and that getting both to happen simultaneously, which is where he seems to be headed based on present trajectory, will look quite original.



January 17, 2006, 11:41 PM

It was only a qualified observation, Moustache. Nothing cynical about it. As a teacher it is my job to make educated guesses.

If you disagree just say so and why. No need to characterize.


Marc Country

January 18, 2006, 11:37 AM

I go along with the majority consensus here... especially Nina's comment #10... it probably doesn't matter that I haven't actually seen the specific hospital she writes of... I still know exactly what she means.

No offense to Jordan, but I can't really figure why anyone would want to look at, or make, objects that look like these do.



January 19, 2006, 2:41 AM

Tachmes gallery looks like the most interesting one in Miami.


caveman incorporated

January 19, 2006, 10:14 AM

I thought Jordan's show was terrific and you guys are just JEALOUS. Jordan is tremendously talented;
he can probably paint with his ass and make better pictures than most of you ever could.
Why do you have to run everything into the ground and pound it to death...enjoy the art and
move on. What kind of ignorant question is it to ask why would he want to paints what he paints?
Because he wants to - I think that's enough reason...otherwise, why would anyone do anything at all?!
Additionally, Jordan is the man who gives students an oppotunity to show - he tries to give people a chance...which is more than I can say about many instructors at AIMIUAD who only care about themselves.



January 19, 2006, 11:13 AM

Caveman, your homework is to go look up the term ad hominem and reread the guidelines.



January 19, 2006, 11:25 AM

I think the more appropriate term would be "envious", Caveman. And I can understand someone being envious of Jordan because he is a good guy and a good painter and he does indeed do a lot for other artsts. None of this has anything to do with my take on this batch of pictures or my disappointment that they do not reflect his considerable talent.

You write "Because he wants to - I think that's enough reason...otherwise, why would anyone do anything at all?!" In other words, no one ever does anything but just what they want to do? What kind of utopia do you live in?

Try to reflect on what you write. Simple intemperance doesn't work.



January 19, 2006, 12:00 PM

Great, let's just beat the poor kid into submission.



January 19, 2006, 12:37 PM


Seriously, you call that a beating?



January 19, 2006, 12:46 PM

Let George be avuncular if he wants to, Franklin, but nobody's buying his guilt trip. I expect he knows that.



January 19, 2006, 12:59 PM

Which poor kid, George?

I want to know who to feel sorry for



January 19, 2006, 2:13 PM

I was referring to response #32directed at Caveman Incorporated.
He was just expressing an (emotional) opinion probably shared by several others to shy to post a comment. Maybe he didn't get the wording precisely correct but his idea got across, good enough for me.

Ever notice how the most interesting art generates the most comments?



January 19, 2006, 6:08 PM

Well, if it is good enough for you, George, then it is good enough for you. It was not good enough for me. It was hostile, semiliterate, off the point and broke Franklin's rules. And I was clear where I agreed with him.

I think he will survive.



January 21, 2006, 5:05 PM

I think, jumping on a running train, is always a wrong thing for an Artist to do. If he does that, what I do not know, but what was mentioned here. I miss in his paintings a sort of real subject, it is about almost everything and in the end about nothing. Sometimes it could need a strong paint over destroying, painting everything away, whats not needed for the image. But I refer to that few paintings I saw in the web. Anyway that he works hard, gives hope on development, thats the most important. The new work remainds me a bit on Dubosarsky&Vinogradov, what was a couple of years ago and for me quite boring.


Marc Country

January 22, 2006, 11:51 PM

Why do you have to run everything into the ground and pound it to death?

Because we want to, silly... After all, why else would anyone do anything, right?

Ever notice how the most interesting art generates the most comments?

No... I think I may have noticed the opposite though... Honestly, I don't think any work has gotten more comments here than R. Mutt's ****** has, and as far as "art" is concerned, that's about as far from interesting as it gets.

At most, it would be fair to say that the most comment-generating art generates the most comments... but of course, that's not saying much.



January 23, 2006, 12:08 AM

Very good, Marc.

••••• indeed. Or, as they say in the comix: #$%@&



January 25, 2006, 4:53 AM

Massengail needs to quit painting beecause he is to traditionist.



January 26, 2006, 11:44 AM

I'll tell you Jordan, the work smells sweet. Jordan focused is a force unrivaled. Frankly, the focus he appears to have garnered in this recent batch of paintings reads as swirling thoughts/visions actualized onto canvas. Bravo. Better than having them paralyze the work for lack of decision. Does anyone think the paintings are funny?Can we discuss this. What is that blue thing/form? If all that is happening within the picture frame-lord only knows what's going on outside of it-what a circus. Not only can Jordan paint like an angel, but a devil as well.

I am trying to understand Bitchen's last comment but "bee"cause is very distracting. What do you suggest he should do instead of painting? Rugby.



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