‘Christian Marclay: New Paintings and Works on Paper’ at Paula Cooper Gallery

Installation view. (Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery)

Installation view. (Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery)

Christian Marclay’s newest feats of editing are collages of found comic-book sound effects silkscreened onto abstract paintings that are, themselves, collages of art historical influence. Backgrounds brightly marked with drips, splashes, clouds and manicolored stains like marbleized paper that were applied with mops, sponges and sometimes feet are impeccably balanced, and the appropriated sound effects, often printed in grayish white, are curated with the discreet neutrality of an anthropologist. The contrast between the original letterers’ gestures, revealed by the enlargement, and the impersonal accomplishment of the paintings behind them is interesting, but contra the sensual activity implied by a SQUISH or a SMAK, the effect can be more like the inoffensive flatness of a screensaver (which may be a more accurate picture of where we are, but personally I’d rather have the SQUISH). The best of these demure tone poems is Actions: Plish Plip! Plap!!! Plop … (No. 2), in which white and cut-out PLISHes, PLAPs, PWOPs and explosions, as well as a single, tormented SPLOOT, are set against dripping splotches in birthday balloon colors, making a whole whose seamless integration lives up to its PLOP. But the strongest altogether are those in which Mr. Marclay prints the noises in black, so they jump out immediately. Actions: Sploosh Whooosh Blub Blub Blub Blub, an oil-contaminated Hokusai, becomes an illustration of its onomatopoeia with an impressive focusing of plane and depth. Instead of a MEH painting, it becomes a full-throated appropriation of the word SPLOOSH. (Through Jan. 18, 2014) 

‘Christian Marclay: New Paintings and Works on Paper’ at Paula Cooper Gallery