Paintings do not appear in just one direction, building from the flat canvas up, as mediums are applied brushstroke by brushstroke. Paintings can also materialize in the other direction, excavated by an artist who works down toward the canvas, finding what’s buried beneath the layers accumulated there. Ann McGriffin is one such painter, working in a mode that owes much to the resolutely urban art of the contemporary L.A. superstar Mark Bradford, who accretes and then digs in to band flyers and hair foil, as well as to the Affichistes, a group of French vanguardists who in the 1950s roamed the streets of Paris looking for thickly stacked and lacerated posters that they would cut off the walls and rehang in galleries. McGriffin takes natural mysteries and the old coal mining hills of her youth as inspiration, but the results are as brash and loud and full of chance encounters as a walk down a city alleyway. The most resonant and exciting of her canvases, accrued from layers of her own acrylic addition and alteration and subtraction, include the kind of elements an aware pedestrian might discover on a walk through town: random words, specks of paint, overlaid patterns and images, and a stray bird, strutting on its own merry way.
—Lori Waxman 2019-05-01 2:05 PM