Aug 312018
 

Lauren Halsey- The Crenshaw District Hieroglyph Project (Prototype Architecture) 2018

Lauren Halsey- The Crenshaw District Hieroglyph Project (Prototype Architecture) 2018

Currently at the Hammer Museum is Made in L.A. 2018, the museum’s fourth biennial exhibition of artists working in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. The diverse group of artists included range in age from 29 to 97.  With so many excellent works in the exhibition, it was very hard to choose which of them to highlight. The following are just a few selections from the exhibition that stood out.

Lauren Halsey’s sculptures (pictured above), won the Mohn Award, a jury award which honors artistic excellence. You can also see another one of her sculptures at MOCA, until September 3.

Selection of works by Luchita Hurtado

The paintings above are from the oldest artist showing in the exhibition, Luchita Hurtado. At 97, she is just starting to get recognition for a lifetime of work.

The youngest artist in the show is Diedrick Brackens (shown below) who uses weaving and textile making to tell stories that reflect on cultural and personal narratives from his childhood in Mexla,Texas.

Diedrick Brackens

The most entertaining of the works in the exhibition is OURCHETYPES, created by Jade Gordon and Megan Whitmarsh. Taking up an entire room, it consists of videos, sculptures, and a publication all dealing with issues of self discovery, adulthood, womanhood, happiness, and success all from a tongue in cheek, retro New Age perspective.

Jade Gordon & Megan Whitmarsh, OURCHETYPES

There are also other video installations that are well worth spending time with.  Gelare Khoshgozaran’s Medina Wasi: Connecting Town, was shot mainly in Mecca and Thermal in the Coachella Valley, along with footage from US military bases in the desert that have created towns meant to simulate Middle Eastern towns for troops to have simulated battles in. She combines this with interviews with US veterans who discuss their memories of the landscape when they were in the Middle East. Neha Choksi’s multichannel video installation Everything sunbright, examines our relationship to the sun and includes images from nature, a dance performance, and children making drawings of the sun all tying together themes of birth, life, and death.

This weekend Hammer Museum has programming to accompany the exhibition. On Saturday, taisha paggett will present a series of solo and duet dance performances and on Sunday, composer/performer Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs is assembling a group of mothers to explore the tropes and meanings of motherhood and Von Doog is offering empathic musical readings in the gallery prior to the performance.

This exhibition closes on Sunday 9/2.

 

May 282018
 

William Eggleston, Tennesee (image via Metropolitan Museum of Art)

There are two great photography exhibitions happening in New York. William Eggleston’s Los Alamos, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art is comprised of seventy-five of his dye transfer prints from color negatives made between 1965 and 1974. The color in these images is incredible as is his ability to evoke feeling from work that is deceptive in its simplicity.  Enhancing the exhibition are a series of quotes from the artist located on various walls, which offer a glimpse into his process and philosophy.

 

The Museum of Modern Art’s Stephen Shore exhibition includes work from his entire career- his start as a teenager meeting with Edward Steichen, time spent with Andy Warhol at The Factory, his large format images from around America, and finally his work in Israel and his current Instagram.  The body of work is impressive and where Eggleston’s work feels like it’s creating a dreamworld from the mundane, Shore’s work seems to present things as they are in true documentary form. Pictures of meals and hotel rooms force the viewer to look at things they usually take for granted in a new way. Not to say that there aren’t images like the large format work, that present an idealistic beauty. Also included, and especially charming, are his stereographs- presented at a small table the images become three dimensional as you peer through the viewer.

 

Stephen Shore, Amarillo, Texas, July 1972 (1972) Image courtesy 303 Gallery

 

Stephen Shore, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California, August 13, 1979 1979. image courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art

Both of these exhibitions close 5/28/18.

May 192018
 

This weekend head to Hauser & Wirth to check out artist Mark Bradford’s exhibition New Works. His first gallery exhibition in Los Angeles in over fifteen years, the paintings included continue to explore societal issues through his dramatic use of color, and his unique technique- which involves combining layers of printed paper with paint and then cutting into these layers to create intricate patterns and shapes. They are incredible to see in person.

From the press release-

Bradford employs the ‘tools of civilization’ – billboards, merchant posters, newsprint, comics, magazines, and endpapers – to conflate cultural and political forces, and create layers of social commentary in paintings that evoke deep feeling. ‘How we build and destroy ourself are the materials that I’m really interested in,’ the artist once stated, ‘and paper is one of the main ways in which information is displayed.’ Through his rigorous physical approach to the material presence of painting, Bradford has addressed powerful issues of our time, including the AIDS epidemic, the misrepresentation and fear of queer identity, and systemic racism in America. His recent work engages in a broader excavation of American history to raise questions about the preservation of the past and the transference of power.

In the new works on view at Hauser & Wirth, Bradford probes stories found in comic books to question the archetype of the antihero and the influence of the media on contemporary society, while also revisiting misconceptions of black identity and gender as seen in previous works. ‘New Works’ presents paintings that extend the artist’s examination of homophobia and racism in American society, continuing themes explored in Bradford’s multimedia installation ‘Spiderman’ (2015), which was shown at the Hammer Museum in LA in 2015.

Also at the Hauser & Wirth space are two other exhibitions worth checking out- Louise Bourgeois: The Red Sky and Romanian artist Geta Brătescu’s The Leaps of Aesop. All of these shows close 5/20/18.

If you go on 5/19, at 2pm artist Matthew Day Jackson will be discussing his work with curator Hamza Walker, Executive Director of LAXART.

 

May 052018
 

Will Ferrell and Joel McHale visit the Hammer Museum

What makes an object art? Does an object only have importance with a narrative attached to it? Conceptual art can be challenging. Walking around the exhibition Stories of Almost Everyone, at the Hammer Museum, it’s hard not to share a bit of the sentiment in the above video. There are so many questions to ask. What am I looking at? Is it art? Why? Does the stack of mail being added to every day feel like art (Mungo Thomson’s contribution)? What about the empty postcard rack (Ceal Floyer’s Wish You Were Here)? Does it gain more meaning when you read about why it’s there? These questions are subjective, of course, but some of the works included resonate more than others. Danh Vo (who currently has an exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum) contributes a lit up globe once owned by Robert McNamara, US Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War. The object itself is beautiful but is given additional meaning when looked at through the eyes of the Vietnamese artist.  Other objects are manipulated, like Fayçal Baghriche’s The clock, which has been sped up to give the illusion of altering time.

In addition to the wall texts, author Kanishk Tharoor contributed a short story that can be listened to on an audio guide or read. As you listen to (or read) the story, the objects now take on a different meaning with their inclusion within the fictional narrative. Does this change your perception of the works? Does it make them resonate more with you? All of this depends, ultimately, on the individual. You’ll have to head to the Hammer to decide for yourself.

This exhibition closes 5/6/18.

 

Apr 282018
 

For his first exhibition, Viewing Room, at Anat Ebgi, Alec Egan has created bright and colorful paintings that capture the viewer’s attention immediately, drawing you into his world.

From the press release-

Fragmented and yet fully whole, Egan tackles the psychology of the domestic interior through a maze of lushly wallpapered rooms. Tulips, a window, a rug, a painting-within-the-painting; these are the clues presented in Egan’s blueprint-key, allowing the viewer to map this imaginary home. The indulgent use of oil paint create textures imbued with a cognitive power, the flatness of the patterns complemented by raised brushstrokes seemingly pushing and pulling one’s gaze. Thick impasto accentuate the dapples found in the floorboards or drywall of this home, the overwhelming quality of Egan’s playful patterns bordering on abstraction through Rococo-esque embellishment.

A pair of socks, boots, glasses; these discarded items wait to be used again, frozen against the wild landscape of the wallpaper, or the duvet-cover, a literal flowerbed. A camouflaging ensues – an upholstered chair all but disappears into the adjacent wall. For all the objects, the absence of the figure is palpable, yet each still-life insists on a haunting human presence and the viewer as witness. There is a sense of escapism throughout, books are featured prominently, and the air is rife with the nostalgia of adolescence and Americana. Swatches on swatches, Egan’s canvases produce an infinite number of windows, chambers and corridors, blending the internal with the external, relishing in their own lurid pattern-making and the comfort of déjà vu.

This exhibition closes 4/28/18.

Apr 282018
 

After Ingres, 2014

Blind Venus (for G),2018

Currently at Walter Maciel Gallery is Katherine Sherwood’s solo exhibition, The Interior of the Yelling Clinic.  The title, according to the press release, takes its name from an organized group of six artists, including Sherwood, “who have an interest in the intersections between war and disability. The Yelling Clinic was created to mix artistic practice with community outreach, art instruction and activism.”

Sherwood’s paintings are influenced by famous European works but also include evidence of physical disabilities (like the cane in Blind Venus, pictured above) and her own brain scans. After a cerebral hemorrhage at 44, the artist lost the use of her right arm and hand and was forced to learn to paint with her left. The nudes mix the personal with the traditional while also challenging notions of beauty and the idealized female form. Adding another dimension to the paintings, they are created on the backs of old art history painting reproductions that she saved from being thrown away by the UC Berkeley Art Department where she taught. The gallery has hung one of her flower paintings (pictured below) from the ceiling so that you can see an example of what is on the other side of the work.

This exhibition closes 4/28/18.

Mar 242018
 

Gordon Parks, “Untitled”, Alabama (1956)

Gordon Parks was an incredible photographer whose influence continues to be felt in photography today. He had a long creative career that also expanded beyond photography to include writing several books, composing music, and directing films- the most famous being Shaft.

The Gordon Parks Foundation recently hosted the exhibition ELEMENT, which focused on several of the photographs that inspired Kendrick Lamar’s video from his album DAMN, seen below. The photo pictured above can be seen as part of the exhibition of Gordon Parks’ work I Am You Part 2 at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York. It is from his series Segregation Story for Life magazine which focused on the daily lives of three black families in Alabama in 1956.

The photo below is a still from Kendrick Lamar’s Element. The video was directed by Jonas Lindstroem and The Little Homies (Kendrick Lamar and Dave Free).

 

To see more of Parks’ work and the work he has influenced, The Gordon Parks Foundation’s website is a good resource for upcoming exhibitions around the world.

Mar 112018
 

Cyprien Gaillard, Nightlife (Images above via Gladstone gallery)

At Gladstone Gallery, Cyprien Gaillard’s 3-D film Nightlife is a wonderfully immersive experience. Starting with Rodin’s The Thinker at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the film then moves to a series of plants and trees moving in slow motion in Los Angeles, followed by the annual Pyronale fireworks at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, and finally a return to Cleveland, where a helicopter lights up the site where Jesse Owens’ Olympic oak is planted. While the film plays, a dub song reverberates throughout the room on a loop, adding to the dreamlike atmosphere.

This exhibition closes 4/14/18.

Oliver Laric, Year of the Dog (Image via Metro Pictures)

At Metro Pictures is Oliver Laric’s two part exhibition, Year of the Dog. The video animation, the stronger part of the show, takes place in the main gallery.

From the press release

The animation continues his inquiry into concepts of metamorphosis, encompassing concerns about time and the complex dynamic between human and nonhuman lifeforms. Against a white background, linear animations of fish, fungi, and other figures move and change shape. The lines composing the animations continually extend or contract to zoom in on greater and greater detail, magnifying a sense of time as the images change. While the shapes and figures, as in his previous video works, are drawn from cartoons and Japanese anime, Laric’s subject matter has grown to also include animations based on live footage. He constructed the animation via an exacting technique in which each line moves continually between sequences—in contrast with traditional techniques in which each sequence consists of a series of redrawn frames. As the shapes perpetually transform, an atmospheric soundtrack commissioned from musician Ville Haimala establishes the sense of an unfolding narrative.

In the back gallery are three resin sculptures of a human dog hybrid holding a smaller dog in its arms, titled Hundemensch. Each sculpture is from the same mold but differs in opacity and color.

This exhibition closes 4/14/18.

 

Desiree Dolron, Complex Systems (2017)- Image via GRIMM

Finally if you are on the Lower East Side, near the ICP Museum and the New Museum is GRIMM gallery, which is currently showing Desiree Dolron’s video, Complex Systems (2017). Her digital illustrations of the movements of starlings are made more intense by the unnatural patterns she includes, and the sounds that accompany the piece.

From the press release

Complex Systems displays a digitally drawn flock of starlings, scattering throughout the sky in a loop of ever-changing patterns. In this work themes such as the fragility of existence, impermanence and the dichotomy between the individual and the collective form the conceptual ground of her inquiry. The title of the film is adopted from the scientific field of network research, which employs the term to define the complex interactions between different components of the same group.

The shapes assumed by the birds are proven to be the result of a defense mechanism system: in order to avoid attack by predators, a singular starling keeps track of seven others simultaneously – in doing so, the starling is able to adapt to the changing flying directions of the entire flock, thus keeping the collective intact. The dichotomy between the individual and the collective is at the core of Dolron’s interest in this natural phenomenon. Complex Systems investigates the relation between singular and shared intelligence, prompting questions concerning humanity, the psyche and the possible presence of a collective unconscious.

The link to the human psyche is emphasized by the cyclical character of the film; Dolron underlines the full turn of life in which the starlings function as a metaphor. Their movements change from an initial drive to a final, slow fall, while the murmuration happens in an eternal loop that symbolizes the cycle of life and its fragility. The movements of the starlings, combined with the pivotal soundtrack of murmuring voices that intensify and fade according to the flock’s movements, allude to the human mind in a state of constant flux.

Mar 082018
 

#Dysturb is a group of photojournalists who paste large-size posters in cities around the world, focusing on under-reported stories with the intention of getting this information to a wider audience. In addition to their public projects, they also have a quarterly print journal.

I first saw their work in Newcastle, UK (pictured above) as part of The Newbridge Project’s Hidden Civil War, a month of programming by various artists around the city in October of 2016.

#Dysturb’s current project is #WomenMatter, focusing on the fight against all types of violence against women. On International Women’s Day 2018, the group will be celebrating their fourth anniversary with a free discussion of this project, as well as their other work and the role of paste-up campaigns in contemporary documentary practice at ICP Museum in NYC.

Jan 092018
 

Cloud Maintenance, 2017

The Ties That Bind, 2017

Currently at Metro Pictures, Jim Shaw’s current mixed media exhibition is full of works that are interesting, engaging and fun.

From the press release

Rendered in exquisite detail, Shaw’s virtuosic work combines his analysis of the political, social and spiritual histories of the United States with contemplative reflections of his own psyche. For more than three decades he has examined art history, comic books, subcultural undergrounds and consumer products—to name only a few of his wide-ranging fields of interest—to articulate a distinct visual language that charts the country’s ever-shifting sociopolitical landscape.

The paintings in this exhibition incorporate symbols and characters of the past to comment on our fraught present. Using imagery drawn from Old Testament stories, pagan myths and satirical cartoons, Shaw relies on his encyclopedic knowledge to visualize our common vernacular. His layered symbology reads like an exaggerated mirror of our hyper-mediated, “post-truth” reality.

This show closes 1/9/18.

At Pace Gallery’s 25th Street location is Elizabeth Murray: Painting in The ’80s, a collection of sixteen unique colorful canvases the artist created during this period.

From the press release-

Elizabeth Murray: Painting in the ‘80s presents formal and narrative content that continues to influence the techniques and subject matter of contemporary painting. Murray arrived in New York in 1967 during the heyday of Minimalism and the rise of Conceptualism, and amid prevailing assertions of painting’s demise. As she recollected, “The mood was that painting was out, that hip people, people who were avant, weren’t involved in painting. That was unnerving, but then I didn’t give a damn.” Fully committed to painting, Murray broke new ground depicting personal, poetic and at times feminist narratives on complex multidimensional shaped canvases. Murray’s compositions from the 1980s suggest large-scale breaking cups, tumbling wineglasses, tilting tables, windows, rooms, attenuated human forms, letters, symbols and abstract shapes constructed through positive and negative, real and imagined space. As Roberta Smith has written, “She has put the vocabulary of twentieth-century abstraction to new and different uses, tracing in irresistible formal terms a psychological narrative that is not explicitly feminine but that women, thanks to society’s relentless conditioning, know best and most completely.”

This show closes 1/13/18.

For Jorge Pardo’s first painting show at Petzel Gallery, he combines his painted self portraits with a sculptural element. Candid snapshots of the artist are “blown-up, engraved, laser-cut, hand-painted and back-lit with LEDs, to produce, in some cases, vast ornamental objects”. The beautiful large works have the added effect of changing slightly depending on where you stand in the gallery as the light shines through the wood.

This show closes 1/13/18.