Joe Grillo "#%@&?!!!"

The Hole NYC


Exhibition catalogue.

Soft cover

Published by Anteism


The Hole is proud to announce the first solo show at the gallery by Joe Grillo.

While one of the first shows we put up at The Hole when we opened in 2010 was a collaborative exhibition between Kenny Scharf and the collective Dearraindrop (of which Grillo is a member), this will be our first exhibition of Grillo’s solo work. The exhibition looks closely at the core of Grillo’s practice which is drawing and collage, insane and abundant, from which his larger paintings, sculptures and other works all spring from.

The proliferation of works created by this artist suggests an intense compulsion to create that you can see in each piece; inventive and spontaneous, the works seem to shoot out of a fire hose of imagination that at times, perhaps, overwhelms the viewer.  The artist is also a collector; from music to comics to art history books, a mindset you can see in the works with repeated favourite characters and esoteric references and “rare finds”.

For this show we will try to capture the breadth and excitement of his small works on paper as well as show the way they are transformed into his larger wall works and larger paintings. We will have to look closely at both if we mean to understand the diverse talents of the artist. The small works we framed right to the edge because the edge of each collage is a thoughtful decision about space; and yet there is so much going on that to verbally describe one 8.5 x 11 drawing would take paragraph after paragraph. Most people I find have to look at about twenty or so before they realize they are coming into contact with a real genius artist; here we exhibit about 300.

The middle of the gallery features canvasses that appear to be enlarged line-paintings of aspects from the drawings. As the drawings are so overwhelming to look at closely, the artist here allows us to back up and see things at a more manageable scale; this move from the micro to the macro gives us a chance to consider different aspects of composition, line or figure ground relationships.

Lastly in the rear of the gallery are the more traditional colorful paintings that are both very precise and somewhat slapdash; the ideas are mutating and proliferating faster than the brush can be dipped in the right color it sometimes seems. At the same time, however, we see that the “best” characters, the most interesting juxtapositions, and the most exciting compositional approaches have been culled from the abundance of drawings to be activated “primetime” in the masterful large paintings.

Mining a kind of throwaway culture of 99-Cent stores, the ubiquitous thrift shops of his home town of Virginia Beach, with their long-forgotten cartoon characters or cereal box mascots, broken toys or instruments, crazy fabrics or discarded lamps, Grillo generates a constant flow of remixed and regurgitated visual information of hybrid pop nonsense that when organized and presented in his artworks and shows, stops seeming random and starts speaking meaningfully to an audience that can synthesize the amount of cultural information he does, and who looks as closely at fine art concerns as he does. It is safe to say that he has achieved “cult status” as an artist, and his work is extremely influential. Grillo was a founding member of Paper Rad and Dearraindrop.

Grillo was born in Meteorcity, AZ and lives and works in Virginia Beach, VA. He has been exhibiting with his collective Dearraindrop and on his own since 2003. Recent solo exhibitions have been at the Nordiska Akvarellmuseet, a museum in Skarhamn, and a solo exhibition at Loyal Gallery in Sweden. Group exhibitions include The Hole here in NYC, Cooper Cole in Toronto, Allegra LaViola Gallery NYC, Canada Gallery NYC, OHWOW in LA, V1 in Copenhagen, Max Wigram in London, Peres Projects in Berlin, Andreas Melas in Athens, Deitch Projects in NYC and John Connelly Presents.


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