Aug 092019
 

 

When trying to talk about the David Hammon’s exhibition at Hauser and Wirth Los Angeles, his first in Los Angeles in 45 years, it’s hard to know where to start. There are no titles or descriptions of any of the works in the show, although there is writing on the walls in certain places. The press release, shown below, is a mass of lines and a dedication to jazz musician Ornette Coleman.

Before you enter either of the two massive galleries housing the exhibition you encounter a courtyard filled with tents, some with “this could be u and u” stenciled on them. Tents also line the corridor under Martin Creed’s neon piece, EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT, with a rack of fancy vintage coats nearby. Once predominantly in Skid Row, Los Angeles’ tent cities have been growing rapidly on street corners and under bridges and highways all over the city, but they often just blend into the background for people walking and driving past. What does a fake tent city in the courtyard of a high end gallery in a newly gentrified neighborhood mean? Is its fake version more affecting than the real one to gallery and restaurant patrons wandering by?

The work in the show feels at times random, clever, humorous, and confounding, but also impressive, thought provoking, and most importantly never dull. There are stacks of art history books sitting on scales. A water filled bowl that contains what once was a snowball Hammons had sold on the street at one point in his career, sits on a wooden shelf. A room with empty glass cubes on wood columns requires you to bend down to see the feet underneath. A book titled A History of Harlem is filled with empty black pages.

In the room pictured below is a three legged chair next to a wall of photos of women sitting in it. Nearby, one of Ornette Coleman’s suits is surrounded by glass.

Another room is filled with paint splattered and damaged fur coats, one facing an antique mirror that is covered. The symbolism feels a bit heavy handed, like the tents, but it works in that there are still several ways to interpret what Hammons might be saying.

Throughout the exhibition paintings are covered in various ways. One in paper, ripped with a bit of the painting visible. Others are partially hidden with tarps, plastic, different fabrics, even an antique rug (shown below). Once again, you can interpret the meaning of this in several ways. With the rug, for example, it’s turned so that only a bit of its design is visible in front of a painting that is not completely visible. These rugs are often associated with old money and sometimes are hung on walls themselves as artwork. Or is it just another assemblage, a visual combination to be taken at face value.

Ultimately the interpretation of all of the work is up to the viewer. There is something freeing in that, not being given answers. Sure, it’s nice to have an explanation of an artist’s intentions sometimes, but you often add your own ideas anyway. Art should make you think, question things, look at the world from a new perspective- this exhibition does all of that and more.

David Hammons at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles closed 8/11/19.

 

 

 

Jul 122019
 

Juan Capistrán, Psychogeography of Rage (sending up searchlights in the form of flames) Western, 2019

Kim Fisher- Los Angeles Hedge, 2019

Kim Fisher, Woman Behind Rocks, 2019

Sabrina Gschwandtner, Cinema Sanctuary, 2019

Sabrina Gschwandtner, Cinema Sanctuary (close-up)

Enrique Castrejon, You, me, and all of us are in this together/Reach out to those that don’t know their status, 2019

Enrique Castrejon, You, me, and all of us are in this together/Reach out to those that don’t know their status, 2019 close-up

Every year The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) awards grants to the city’s best mid-career artists. The work created with these grants is then shown in the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) in Barnsdall Park for the C.O.L.A.(City of Los Angeles) exhibitions.

COLA 2019 is made up of 11 artists working in various mediums. Two of the artists, Juan Capistrán and Kim Fisher were also shown together as part of Hammer Museum’s biennial exhibition, Made in L.A. 2014. For this show, Capistrán created large brick sculptures that he placed in sites in South Los Angeles that haven’t been rebuilt since the 1992 LA Riots. In his section of work in the gallery, he includes photos of these temporary site specific installations as well as some of the brick sculptures- two of which have balloons tied to them spelling GRATIS. The bricks can be seen as objects of destruction or building blocks, and the dual meanings work well in the context of the work.

Kim Fisher’s large collages capture another side of Los Angeles. From the hedge she used for the largest piece, to the ocean, swimming pools, and car culture, included in her others, the graphics and color come together in a way that feels very much like the traditional ideas associated with the city.  The different sections, created to look as if they were torn or cut from magazines, form collages that feel like scattered memories that have somehow arranged themselves cohesively.

Sabrina Gschwandtner took forgotten films made by female directors and stitched them together to form patterns drawn from the history of quilt-making. The use of a craft that is traditionally associated with women and tying it an artistic pursuit that women are only more recently being acknowledged for is an interesting juxtaposition. The resulting work is stunning graphically and reminiscent of Agnés Varda’s colorful house of film reels created for LACMA’s Agnés Varda in Californialand from 2014.

Enrique Castrejon created sculptures that stem from his work in an LGBTQ center in Los Angeles. His sculptures of fragmented bodies are surrounded by strips of paper with HIV infection rates. The humanity of the figures contrasts with the overwhelming strips of typed documentation that swarms all around them.

All of the work created for this exhibition is incredibly strong and these annual exhibitions are a great way to see some of the best work being created by Los Angeles artists today. If you can’t make it to the exhibition there is a video on the site that takes you on a walk through with one of the curators. Also make sure to catch Stephanie Taylor’s Municipal Art Song, which plays at the entrance to the exhibition. She created song lyrics based on text from LAMAG and DCA’s websites and catalogs, and used them to create sheet music using Schoolhouse Rock! as an inspiration. The result is really funny, especially if you read a lot of press releases.

This exhibition closes 7/14/19.

 

 

Jun 292019
 

“Graduation”, (1949) © Estate of Roy DeCarava

We look at so many images today that often the value of individual photos decreases with the abundance of them. That’s why it is such a pleasure to spend time with Roy DeCarava’s black and white photographs at The Underground Museum. His images have a meditative beauty to them. They catch your eye and hold it. There is a richness to his compositions, his use of textures and light.

While at The Underground Museum, also take a moment to look through a copy of De Carava’s book collaboration with writer Langston Hughes, The Sweet Flypaper of Life in the book store.  The images in it influenced artist Kahlil Joseph’s film Flypaper (2017), which was recently shown at MOCA.  Kahlil Joseph’s brother, artist Noah Davis, who sadly passed away in 2015, founded The Underground Museum with his wife, artist Karon Davis, in 2012.

Roy DeCarava: The Work of Art closes 6/29/19.

 

“Bill and son”(1962) © Estate of Roy DeCarava

 

Jun 272019
 

This is the last week to see Kirsten Everberg’s painting exhibition, Life Still, at 1301PE before it closes on 6/29/19.

From the press release

With a new body of work that is based primarily on the genre and history of Dutch Golden Age still life paintings Everberg replaces the traditional elements with plant and animal species simultaneously listed as extinct or endangered, native and non-native. Symbolic not just as demonstrations but for their ability to transcend deceptively “earthy splendors”, these paintings have the capacity to create meaning in the larger moment we find ourselves in while being contained primarily in architectural settings. Everberg’s attention to detail is highlighted by the shifting perspective that is at the same time unstable and precise, and the scale is amplified, elevating the objects and creatures to sometimes imposing monumentality, refusing to be unseen or marginalized.

Using a unique combination of oil and enamel paint, Everberg’s works hover between representation and pure paint. There is always a tension here between the convincing depiction of space and the abstract skeins of color that dance across the canvas. What appears to be the exterior of a house or a dense jungle from far away is reconfigured into glossy pools of paint close-up. Everberg’s mastery of her medium is demonstrated by how deftly she walks this line. Narrative and image; truth and fiction; surface and what lies beneath – are all woven together in her captivating works.

Jun 272019
 

Currently at Vielmetter Los Angeles’ Culver City location is Raffi Kalenderian’s fourth solo exhibition, Memento Vivo.  His unique and colorful paintings draw you in immediately. The contrast between the bright, dynamic environments and the relaxed demeanor of the portrait’s subjects, creates an intriguing tension in the works.

Several of the paintings, like those seen above, include vibrant tropical plants. Sometimes they dominate the canvas, and at other times are seen through a window or in a reflection. According to the press release, these represent “a celebratory attitude of renewal and growth against seemingly impenetrable darkness”.

This exhibition closes 6/29/19.

Jun 202019
 

Regen Projects is currently showing Elliot Hundley’s Clearing (pictured above) and Liz Larner’s As Below, So Above (shown below). Hundley’s exhibition includes five panel works as well as three benches with accompanying sculptures. The panel works are incredible, with dizzying amounts of detail and texture. Tiny images, pieces of fabric, tags, and even one flip flop, mix with paint and ink to form the final works. The best way to appreciate the work is by moving close to look at small sections at a time and then pulling back to see it as a whole.

In the video below, that was made for the exhibition at MOCA that Hundley recently curated, he talks a bit about his process. Especially interesting is when he says he tries to leave his creations “in an open ended form so that people who look at them can also imagine making them or interacting with them or destroying them or rearranging them”.

For Liz Larner’s exhibition she has created several new works that “demonstrate her ongoing examination into sculpture, painting, drawing, and ceramics. The environment – the personal and the entrenched – are set together in these artworks that reach for an understanding of vulnerability through what is and has been considered low and directed, made capital of, and endangered.”

Both of these exhibition will close on 6/22/19.

Jun 132019
 

It’s not often an art show comes along where you wish there were more people in the gallery, but going to see Urs Fischer: PLAY at Jeffrey Deitch in Los Angeles was one of them. When you first walk into the large space filled only with office chairs, you notice them moving but in ways you might not expect- if you expect office chairs to be moving on their own in the first place.

The chairs are controlled by artificial intelligence that determines and learns from each encounter. Even alone in the gallery, it was delightful to watch the chairs interact with each other and then myself as I walked around. They come close to you and each other. They spin and travel together or seem to interact one by one. When others entered the gallery they change their movement again, seemingly without any set pattern. At one point I watched one of the chairs move all the way to the desk by the entrance, a space that seemed like it would be out of bounds.

Urs Fischer is quoted in the press release saying- “despite the complexity of the parts, the exhibition as a whole is pretty simple. It’s about what you, the viewer, project onto it. It’s not about chairs, it’s about humans.” This is what makes the show so fascinating, it is almost impossible not to anthropomorphize the chairs and their interactions.

PLAY, conceived of by Urs Fischer with choreography by Madeline Hollander, runs through June 15th.

Jun 062019
 

This is the last weekend to see the excellent exhibition Charles White: A Retrospective at LACMA.

From the press release-

Jun 062019
 

Taking up an entire level of the BCAM Building at LACMA, Robert Rauschenberg: The 1/4 Mile or 2 Furlong Piece, is a wonderful testament to the artist’s work and creativity. It is also the first time it has ever been shown in its entirety.

There is so much variety in the materials, subjects, colors, and styles, that as you wander from section to section, it’s easy to notice new things the longer you look. Despite the differences among the different sections, they are bound together by a creative exuberance. LACMA recommends an hour to wander the 1/4 mile of work, but you may want to spend longer.

This exhibition will close on 6/9/19.

May 302019
 

George Condo’s current exhibition at Sprüth Magers, What’s The Point?, is asking the question many of us are asking more and more these days. There’s a controlled chaos to many of these compelling large paintings, much like the world we often find ourselves in.

From the press release

What’s the Point of consistency in art?

Every time I put a brushstroke down on a canvas I ask myself, “What’s the Point?”

What’s the Point of each and every mark going onto the painting? It is important for an artist to ask themselves that question. I am intentional with every move I make as a painter. Even if it appears to be random or an accident, or just a part of a painting that seems less important than another, it is not and cannot ever be. The choice of color has a point. It may be to balance an area of a painting in coordination with another part or to equalize the fine line between perception and reality within the abstract perception of a formal set of guidelines (that never apply to anything other than the singular experience invested in each artwork). There is no guideline to the unknown. It is a path cut out in the wild with a machete looking for a clearing and hoping to arrive at a destination. That, I believe, is the point, in fact: to arrive at your destination. It may be on the other end of an illogical equation which finally makes sense only some number of years later, or finally does not make sense in the end but remains the ultimate ending: the finished painting.

One can see the entire world through this lens, to ask What’s the Point of meaningless intangibles and vacant thoughts, blank space or overpopulated ruminations. The degree to which the mind can play games with itself or the degree to which it can be misled with false, if not real, information. Real information can in fact be false today. We are living in a time when what is presented to us in the news cycle is real—there is no doubt that it is in fact what is being presented. However, What’s the Point in believing in the material content when it could be a truth constructed to make you believe something for the purpose of political manipulation?

What’s the Point of being consistent? In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
—George Condo

Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are pleased to present What’s the Point?, an exhibition of new paintings by George Condo at Sprüth Magers, Los Angeles. One of the most significant artists of the last several decades, Condo creates works that dramatically bridge an array of painterly approaches, moods, and influences from diverse fields such as art history, music, philosophy, and popular culture. The artist’s compositions often begin with the human figure, rendered variously in fluid networks of black lines and interlacing planes of bold color that move seamlessly between controlled precision and unabashed exuberance. His canvases tap into the extremes of human emotion and, at a moment of crisis in American and global politics, a sense of mania and disorder that nonetheless holds out hope for progress and resolution. The paintings in What’s the Point? demonstrate the breadth of Condo’s artistic references, for example, from seventeenth-century portraiture of beggars and thieves found in the work of Dutch and Italian masters, to his own compendium of painterly gestures, which together form a trenchant picture of contemporary human consciousness.

Upstairs the gallery is showing the work of Thea Djordjadze which “combines a variety of artistic, industrial, and unconventional materials to produce works full of contrasts and complexity, which she puts into conversation with the architecture and atmosphere of her exhibition spaces through intimate, considered arrangements.”

Both of these exhibitions close 6/1/19.