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.

 

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.

Dec 022017
 

Today, December 1st, is Day With(out) Art, a national day of action and mourning organized by Visual AIDS with arts organizations and institutions in response to the AIDS crisis. It is also World AIDS Day, an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the disease.

In 2014, on the 25th anniversary of Day With(out) Art, Visual AIDS commissioned seven artists/collaboratives to create short videos for a program titled ALTERNATE ENDINGS, which are now available to watch online.  This year Visual AIDS has created another video program –ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS, previewed above.

From their Vimeo channel

Curated by Erin Christovale and Vivian Crockett for Visual AIDS, the video program prioritizes Black narratives within the ongoing AIDS epidemic, commissioning seven new and innovative short videos from artists Mykki Blanco, Cheryl Dunye & Ellen Spiro, Reina Gossett, Thomas Allen Harris, Kia LaBeija, Tiona Nekkia McClodden and Brontez Purnell.

In spite of the impact of HIV/AIDS within Black communities, these stories and experiences are constantly excluded from larger artistic and historical narratives. In 2016 African Americans represented 44% of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States. Given this context, it is increasingly urgent to feature a myriad of stories that consider and represent the lives of those housed within this statistic. ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS seeks to highlight the voices of those that are marginalized within broader Black communities nationwide, including queer and trans people.

The commissioned projects include intimate meditations of young HIV positive protagonists; a consideration of community-based HIV/AIDS activism in the South; explorations of the legacies and contemporary resonances within AIDS archives; a poetic journey through New York exploring historical traces of queer and trans life, and more. Together, the videos provide a platform centering voices deeply impacted by the ongoing epidemic.

Next week on 12/7 (Thursday), MOCA Grand Avenue in Los Angeles will be screening this program followed by a performance by Kia LaBeija and a discussion featuring Reina Gossett and Kia LaBeija in conversation with Day With(out) Art curators Erin Christovale and Vivian Crockett. (this event is free)

In New York it will be screened on 12/4 (Monday) at Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture with a post-screening discussion featuring artists Cheryl Dunye, Ellen Spiro and Thomas Allen Harris in conversation with curators Erin Christovale and Vivian Crockett. (free but make sure to register as the event at The Whitney filled up quickly)

 

May 202017
 

Julius von Bismarck’s Good Weather at Marlborough Contemporary is an interesting meditation on man’s desire to control nature. The first half of the exhibition focuses on Bismarck’s attempts to capture a lightning bolt with the rockets pictured above. In a side room there is a mesmerizing video of a storm rolling into a jungle and the lightning that he used for his experiment. The second half of the gallery focuses on pressed plant species and chickens.

In the press release his process for achieving these flattened works is described in detail-

Like a Colonial scientist, von Bismarck has collected plant species from jungle. Rather than pressing tiny flowers in a notebook, the artist has pressed large plants and entire palm trees into flattened specimens. Heated to a precise 250 degrees in an enormous custom-built oven and a 50-ton hydraulic press, the plants are completely dehydrated without losing their verdant coloration, and squashed astonishingly flat. They are then backed with thin stainless steel to maintain their shape for presentation.

This exhibition closes 5/20/17.

                                                                                       No title (room, panic doors), 2013-14

At Gagosian gallery is Robert Therrien’s first show in New York in ten years. The artist, well known for his sculptures of massive tables, chairs and plates, is now creating rooms and new objects- which include drops, a bow, and a flagpole. The rooms are the works that stand out most, both in scale and in the disconcerting feeling of environments that should feel more normal than they do.

From the press release-

Despite their verisimilitude, Therrien’s rooms impede the viewer’s ability to engage with space in any comfortable way.  Meticulously assembled features of common industrial design allow one to stand in front of architectural vistas. Elevated above ground level and cut away to show interiors that, like dioramas, become impenetrable replicas of reality, each is like a mise-en-scène or readymade. No title (room, panic doors) (2013–14) presents a set of doors in a room filled with fluorescent light. In No title (paneled room) (2017), tambourines rest silent on the floor of a room luxuriously paneled in hardwood, and a ladder leads to a trapdoor in the ceiling. Each room transports the viewer out of the gallery and into a new narrative situation, prompting connections between material details and their subconscious associations. By making use of everyday things that are often overlooked, Therrien situates the viewer in familiar territory, then allows the objects to demand reassessment as instruments of subjectivity and of consciousness itself.

This exhibition closes 5/26/17.

For a room of a different sort, there is Gabriel Lester’s Nevada at Ryan Lee gallery, in which various sections of a wall sized installation light up as assorted voices tell their stories.

                                                                                        Nevada, 2017 (image courtesy of Ryan Lee)

From the press release-

Questions of presence and absence resurface in Nevada, the second component of this exhibition. Nevada confronts the viewer with a floor to ceiling modular wall. Carefully selected objects that correspond with the individual stories combined in Nevada’s multilayered narrative occupy each compartment. Guided by light and sound, the viewer navigates the histories of a series of anonymous characters that find themselves locked out of the world they used to inhabit. In an effort to escape the parallel world in which they have come to dwell, each character attempts to understand the nature and cause of their own existence. Considering personal memories and local histories of migration, mining, gambling, nuclear test sites, and mysterious locations like Area 51 and the Nevada triangle (an area in the California-Nevada desert where numerous aircrafts have vanished), Lester’s Nevada probes the tensions that link the seemingly distinct characteristics of this place to a number of characters looking for a way back to a life they have lost.

The exhibition opens onto a room of low-resolution LED panels showing internet-sourced images of near extinct animals and their habitats. The two rooms feel like separate exhibitions but are brought together by their shared qualities of losing one’s place in the current world.

This show runs until 5/20/17.