Part of the exhibition: Echoes of Laocoön
“Melissa Gordon’s work is laden with the weight of history, an abundance of factual information and powerful media imagery reproduced to the point of exhaustion.“
– S1 Art Space
An engagement with the legacy of modernism, and in particular the modernist grid, runs throughout Melissa Gordon’s oeuvre. In a different body of work she has highlighted the physical deterioration of modern masterpieces by blowing up details of craquelure in paintings by artists such as Piet Mondriaan, and she often approaches her subject from a feminist angle.
This preoccupation with the legacy of modernism’s ambitions is perfectly captured in Ironer from 2008, in which Gordon takes on the modernist (and Greenberg’s) aspirations of flatness. The image shows a man on a ladder, bespectacled and dressed up, climbing the back of a great elephant. With one hand he is stretching the animal’s skin, whilst his other hand holds an iron that has already flattened half of the wrinkles on the elephant.
The scene is an elaborate in-joke on modernism’s ambitions to reduce paintings to increasingly flatter surfaces (flat as a recently ironed shirt), whilst the nature of the beast is inherently three-dimensional. The scene is depicted on a card that has been placed inside the pocket of a shirt, which itself features the recognisable pattern of a geometric Frank Stella painting from the 1960s. Gordon’s painting suggests that despite the theoretical flattening of the picture plane, the canvas at the end of the day is still a three-dimensional object.
Melissa Gordon was born in the United States but based in London, where she also lectures at the prestigious Goldsmiths University. A mid-career artist with established representation from Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York, her work has been exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin, the Bonner Kunstverein, Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, the Zabludowicz Collection in London and Wiels in Brussels.
Selected solo exhibitions
2022 Towner Gallery, Eastbourne
2019 Deweer Gallery, Belgium
2016 De Vleeshal, Middelburg
2016 The Bluecoat, Liverpool
2014 Marianne Boesky, New York
2014 Juliette Jongma, Amsterdam
2012 Marianne Boesky, New York
2009 Marianne Boesky, New York
Selected group exhibitions
2018 Boesky Gallery, New York
2017 Wiels, Brussels
2017 Kunsthal Oslo
2013 Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn
2012 Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin
2010 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
2010 Zabludowicz Collection, London
2009 Kavi Gupta, Chicago
2007 Timothy Taylor, London
2007 Kunsthalle Dusseldorf
2006 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam