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Entering a(nother) show of contemporary painting brings about an immediate exhaustion I haven’t felt since the last time I read Derrida. Painting, more than other media, seems particularly resistant to both the mostly-unquestioned modernist imperative to say something new as well as the attempt to make even vaguely interesting work out of a kind of postmodern resourceful cynicism.
Easton Miller’s paintings at CES, like much contemporary painting, grasps at the life raft of expanded technique—here, upholstery, assemblage, and flocking. Free of any figuration beyond decorative florals and repeating shapes, Miller’s mark making seems a simple distraction from aimless composition—though Keep On Keepin’ On’s allusion to Black hairstyles keeps one’s attention for all the wrong reasons. Miller’s sizable catalogue here is a victim of variety’s double-edged sword: enough difference to keep one’s attention while eluding coherence. The dull thud of the Dad-joke-exhibition-title (I’m Already Dead in Dog Years) continues into the titles of individual pieces: a grab bag of cliché, euphemism and Bell Biv Devoe. The few bright spots—Sophisticated Enough or the marooned plastic screens of Goody Busy Though, say—manage to find a distinguishing formal language bobbing just above their surroundings.
Easton Miller: I’m Already Dead in Dog Years runs July 25-September 12, 2015 at CES Gallery (711 Mateo Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021)