Alexander Grahovsky’s paintings are portraits of people who look without looking. They could spend their whole lives crouched behind their sunglasses, absorbed in the ritual of their gum chewing. And chewing gum is a figure of the spleen. The neurotic repetition of the eternal present. With the chewing gum in tension, time stops. It is the suspension that can be felt in the interior scenes of Hopper’s paintings … as a slight threat in the environment. But in Grahovsky’s portraits, the threat is diluted by the humour of the gesture of fashion and children’s play (“1993”, La barbería). Or where Ingres is knotted together with Duchamp (“Ingres”); or Hockney with Mapplethorpe and Liberatore … to end up dreaming the dream of a Lynch movie (“American Dream”). There is merit in turning “Lola” into something similar to a Bond girl by McGinnis, and “Carabassa» into one of Rockwell’s granddaughters. The drama of the solitary becomes a parody in Pop Art. Munch made him scream the desperation of his anomie. It was, according to the title of Musil’s famous novel, a “man without qualities”. These characters, however, only chew gum with a comicity they do not even know about themselves. Grahovsky adds what, as before in Munch, is now lacking in another way in Robert Weaver’s strollers (“Nobody’s King”, “Come as You Are”): he provides them with a mask, that is, a personality.

The personalities here are usually triggered by simple accident: the psychedelic rhythm of a Kraftwerk song (“Das Model”), the soundtrack of a Perkins movie (“Should I Stay or Should I Go”) or a photo on the Instagram profile of Marisekye (“Red Umbra”). With the chewing gum in tension, we said, time stops; but when it explodes, the time that explodes, in turn, is not another thing either: because the glasses disappear only to show us that the indifference remains (“Where Are My Glasses?”). Only when the chewing gum is released does its destiny become transfigured into a landscape that the characters do not see (“Gone”). Neither exhibitionists nor voyeurs, there is nothing more to look at because everything is in the chewing gum. The bodies are only its extension. Because outside, whatever there be, now there is nothing. And that, of course, as spectators leave us in a bad spot too. In the exact spot where laughter truly begins.

By Kiko Mora