Joani Tremblay Darkness, Silence, and Nature as a Political Plan 2, 91,4 × 76,2 cm, 2020.
Photo : Jean-Michael Seminaro, permission de | courtesy of the artist & Galleria MLF | Marie-Laure Fleisch, Bruxelles

The Afterlife’s Painting

Oli Sorenson
Artspace Magazine critic Walter Robinson first uttered the catchphrase Zombie Formalism in a 2014 article, to speak of the reductive, quasi- Greenbergian aesthetic of Lucien Smith, Jacob Kassay, Oscar Murillo, and like-minded up-and-coming painters.1 1 - “The Idea of Painting,” Esse 76 (Fall 2012). From this impression of limbo between life and death, my text naturally fashioned the analogy of the undead zombie, in which painters stumbled upon artistic recognition under the spell of greater market influences. Coincidentally, soon after this article came out, new trends started cascading out of New York to shore up young artists making shallow yet commercially successful paintings. First coined as Zombie Formalism, this abstract fad was soon followed by a more illustrative sequel, unearthed as Zombie Figuration.

Artspace Magazine critic Walter Robinson first uttered the catchphrase Zombie Formalism in a 2014 article, to speak of the reductive, quasi-Greenbergian aesthetic of Lucien Smith, Jacob Kassay, Oscar Murillo, and like-minded up-and-coming painters.2 2 - Walter Robinson, “Flipping and the Rise of Zombie Formalism,” Artspace Magazine, April 3, 2014, accessible online. Robinson remarked that the studio production of such individuals often adopts a “simulacrum of originality” by overlooking the teachings of postmodernity to debase novelty as a bankrupt value. But Zombie Formalists have not quite restored the pursuit of the new in art as much as inducted a need to hold “premieres.” Through a sequence of superficial milestones, Smith was the first to use paint-filled fire extinguishers to execute his Rain Paintings (2012), and Kassay premiered the electroplating process on canvas to produce his Silver Monochromes (2012).

You must have a valid Digital or Premium subscription to access this content

Subscribe to Esse now to read the full text!

Subscribe
This article also appears in the issue 102 - (Re)seeing Painting
Discover

Suggested Reading