The press release for Jordan Kantor‘s self titled exhibition, currently on view at Ratio 3 in San Francisco, provides readers with little more than a physical account of what the exhibition includes: “several paintings on canvas, some in oil, others in enamel, two looping slide projections,” etc. This type of opacity in the actual content of the show seemed frustrating at first, but after a few moments that frustration quickly dissolved into intrigue. Upon viewing the exhibition my emotional response was not unlike that of reading the press release, confused as to the artist’s intent, but soon a flood of connections between the exhibited works began to develop. The correlation between the press release’s purpose to outline the physicality of the show as opposed to the content and the show’s attempt to underscore the building blocks of painting without indulging the content of any said painting became strikingly apparent. And, while this exhibition seems to indulge a post-medium practice, as opposed to Kantor’s previous exhibitions which often consist exclusively of paintings, this collection of works may actually be more about painting than any other.
The press release states “Though comprised of individual pieces, this exhibition is conceived as a constellation of works to be seen together in the space in which they are shown,” and this certainly holds true. Each piece is strategically placed to complement or finish other works in proximity. Together these works culminate to provide an intimate, yet removed understanding of all that lies on the periphery of a painting.
Included in the exhibition are many pieces that serve as evidence of works past, such as three of the artist’s palettes that were used to construct works from a previous exhibition at Ratio 3, and two slide projectors which provide an intimate look into the materials of the artist’s studio. Kantor also displays an X ray of a painting that reveals the physical structure of the painting without revealing the content of the painting, a metaphor that continues to play out through the exhibition.
The bulk of the works that actually contain pigment on canvas capture film leaders, which are used to lead into or trail out of films. These paintings, like many of the other works in the show, show a tool needed to aid in the display of an image without revealing exactly what that image is. The only work that bears a direct resemblance to Kantor’s previous body of paintings is Untitled (builder), an image of a brick layer building the foundation for a wall. This work acts as yet another layer in Kantor’s construction of an image.
This collection of work illustrates artist’s ability to distance himself from the very act of creating an image-based painting in order to obtain a more thorough investigation of his own role with the medium. The exhibition functions like a puzzle, where each piece is less than the sum of the whole.
Jordan Kantor currently lives in San Francisco and is an associate professor of art practice and theory at California College of the Arts. In late 2008 and early 2009, his work was featured in the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, and he received the SECA Art Award Exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA). Kantor received an AB from Stanford University and his PhD from Harvard University.