Art review: Greg Colson at Griffin


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In his latest show of paintings at Griffin, Greg Colson continues to mine the detritus of the information age with mixed results. Among the best examples are two large circular diagrams painted directly on the wall. Executed with the graphic clarity of 1950s science illustrations, they are grand and hilarious testaments to the leveling effect of data overload. One includes concentric circles depicting ‘5 Steps to Happiness,’ ‘Flea Life Cycle,’ ‘The Cycle of Addiction,’ ‘Small Business Life Cycle,’ and for good measure, a flange gasket, a plumbing component used to fit two pipes together. The piece levels the distinctions between these wide-ranging phenomena in an absurdly uninformative information graphic.

It also reveals our tendency to organize all kinds of things into circles. But this seemingly natural order is rudely interrupted by the inclusion of the flange gasket, a mechanical part that just happens to be circular.


Building material also appears in a series of paintings on Tyvek, a white synthetic fabric used on construction sites. On this slippery surface, Colson layers numbers and information graphics in dense black and white abstractions, suggesting a barrage of data that acts as a thin scrim on top or perhaps in place of reality.

Less interesting are his illustrated pie charts quantifying how people spend their time on planes or manage stress. Here the information graphics that float free in the other works are relegated to more conventional roles, depicting activities such as sleeping, going to the restroom or having sex. Although they too reflect the data-driven tenor of contemporary life, they’re more like cute jokes than pointed questions.

– Sharon Mizota

Griffin, 2902 Nebraska Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 586-6886, through March 6. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Images: Elliptical Models in Nature and Culture (Flea), 2010 (top) and Installation View – Paintings, Wallworks, Pie Charts. Courtesy of Griffin Gallery.