Rodney Graham on his work 'Refraction Study after Jerry Lewis (Artists and Models, 1955)', 2020
1 February 2024
In 'Rodney Graham: Paintings and Lightboxes', opening in Los Angeles on 2 February 2024, Lisson Gallery presents a selection from two major bodies of work by Graham in the first solo exhibition of his work in Los Angeles in two decades. While these two-dimensional works flip between monumental, back-lit photographs and textured, abstract paintings, they also reference a plethora of Graham’s wider interests including filmmaking, literature, music, comedy and art history.
Among the lightbox works in the show is Refraction Study after Jerry Lewis (Artists and Models, 1955), 2020.
In Graham's words:
'Refraction Study after Jerry Lewis (Artists and Models, 1955)' is based on a scene in a Martin and Lewis comedy from 1955 called Artists and Models, a Frank Tashlin film in which Jerry Lewis plays a kind of idiot savant who is obsessed with comics, and comes up with genius comic book plots in his sleep, transcribed by his buddy Dean Martin.
This work specifically replicates a scene in the office of the comic book company, in which Jerry Lewis is reading a comic behind a water cooler, and the water cooler is causing a distorting effect… causing his nose to extend in a kind of Pinocchio, phallic… kind of Pinocchio way…
I was going to do this… full on Studio production. We started buying props, so that we could reconstruct the set of the original film, but COVID came along and so we decided to do it as a more spontaneous kind of Studio piece, which in a way is kind of appropriate because this piece is not really about Photoshop or special effects… it's about the actual comical or rather cylindrical anamorphism that's created by the refraction effect when you're looking through a cylindrical object, filled with water.
I did it just with elements that were around the Studio… like a crate for an old artwork, a stool to get height… the appropriate height, and just sat on a piano stool, reading a comic that was pretty well the only comic… one of the few comics that I've had around the Studio, an old Road Runner comic.
– Rodney Graham, 2020.
Courtesy of Rodney Graham Studio
Filmed in Vancouver, 18 May, 2020
Cinematograhy by Sven Boecker
Edited by Richard Amies
Film stills Artists and Models, 1955, Directed by Frank Tashlin © Paramount Studios