Mar 112020
 

This mural, Untitled (Questions) (1990/2018), by artist Barbara Kruger, is on the wall of The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles until November 2020. The work was originally commissioned by MOCA in 1989 for the exhibition A Forest of Signs: Art in the Crisis of Representation, and was last installed in 1990 on the south wall of MOCA’s building (now The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA).

 

 

Feb 142020
 

 

For Bridge Projects inaugural exhibition at their location in Hollywood they are showing Phillip K. Smith III’s 10 Columns, an immersive light installation created specifically for the space. Watching the colors fade in and out as you stand, sit, or walk around the sculptures is a wonderfully meditative experience.

From the press release-

The faceted surface of the San Bernardino mountains and surrounding desert both frame Smith’s studio and inform his practice; perpetually shifting light and color refracting across the landscape inspires the artist’s exploration into phenomenology, optical theories, and color. As a result, change has become fundamental to the experience of his work. Through the use of reflective, geometric forms just larger than human scale, Smith has distilled something as monumental as a sunset to an intimate encounter.

Commissioned for the inaugural exhibition of Bridge Projects, 10 Columns features Smith’s signature mirrored surfaces and dynamic light program. Expanding on past site-specific installations, the artist adjoined mirrored rectilinear forms to the colonnades of Bridge Projects’ site at Santa Monica Blvd and Highland creating an architecture inside the existing one. The modular structure consists of thirty forms of equal heights and three distinct widths, adhering to the ten concrete columns in unique combinations of 90 and 180 degree angles that shift between aligning with and disrupting the grid of columns. The forms are animated by Smith’s patented light program. As the surfaces emit gradations of light and color, the dimensions and experience of the room shift and blur, evoking the changes of light in the Los Angeles atmosphere throughout the day. Recalling both LA’s Light and Space movement and ancient cosmologies, light is a resonant image for the beginning of Bridge Projects.

This exhibition closes this weekend (2/16) and the gallery is having programming on Saturday and Sunday that includes a soundscape featuring “Watermusic II” by William Basinski, a relaxation workshop, and a tea tasting.

 

 

Jan 242020
 

Sadie Barnette’s recreation of her father Rodney Barnette’s bar, Eagle Creek Saloon for The New Eagle Creek Saloon at ICA LA is not only beautiful, but it also celebrates an important piece of history.

From the museum’s website-

For her first solo museum presentation in Los Angeles, Oakland-based artist Sadie Barnette (b. 1984) will reimagine the Eagle Creek Saloon, the first black-owned gay bar in San Francisco, established by the artist’s father Rodney Barnette, founder of the Compton, CA chapter of the Black Panther Party. From 1990–93 Barnette’s father operated the bar and offered a safe space for the multiracial LGBTQ community who were marginalized at other social spaces throughout the city at that time.

Barnette engages the aesthetics of Minimalism and Conceptualism through an idiosyncratic use of text, decoration, photographs, and found objects that approach the speculative and otherworldly. Barnette’s recent drawings, sculptures, and installations have incorporated the 500-page FBI surveillance file kept on her father and references to West Coast funk and hip-hop culture to consider the historical and present-day dynamics of race, gender, and politics in the United States. Using materials such as spray paint, crystals, and glitter, she transforms the bureaucratic remnants from a dark chapter in American history into vibrant celebrations of personal, familial, and cultural histories and visual acts of resistance. The New Eagle Creek Saloon is a glittering bar installation that exists somewhere between a monument and an altar, at once archiving the past and providing space for potential actions.

The museum is also showing No Wrong Holes: Thirty Years of Nayland Blake (pictured below).

From the museum’s website-

For over 30 years, artist, educator, and curator Nayland Blake (b. 1960) has been a critical figure in American art, working between sculpture, drawing, performance, and video. No Wrong Holes marks the most comprehensive survey of Blake’s work to date and their first solo institutional presentation in Los Angeles.

Heavily inspired by feminist and queer liberation movements, and subcultures ranging from punk to kink, Blake’s multidisciplinary practice considers the complexities of representation, particularly racial and gender identity; play and eroticism; and the subjective experience of desire, loss, and power. The artist’s sustained meditation on “passing” and duality as a queer, biracial (African American and white) person is grounded in post-minimalist and conceptual approaches made personal through an idiosyncratic array of materials (such as leather, medical equipment, and food) and the tropes of fairy tales and fantasy. Particular focus will be paid to work produced while Blake lived on the West Coast, first in the greater Los Angeles area as a graduate student at CalArts, followed by a decade in San Francisco—years bookended by the advancement of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and the “culture wars” of the 1990s.

Feeder 2, 1998

The gingerbread house, pictured above, is one of Blake’s best known works and was created using actual gingerbread. It references the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel as it recreates the house used to lure the children to their potential doom.

From the wall description-

Fairy tale and fantasy are themes to which the artist often returns as a mirror onto society and culture. Further, duality and the act of revealing are critical to Blake’s practice: as a biracial, white-passing, queer, gender non-binary person, Blake’s identity is one that is not obvious and is predicated on existing in two spaces at once. Though initially captivating through its inviting sight and scent, over time, the once-pleasant sensorial experience of Feeder 2, with its cold, empty interior, becomes overwhelming, even nauseating, as it challenges the truth of perception and association.

Both of these exhibitions close 1/26/20.

Jan 162020
 

Sexy Robot_Floating, 2019 by Hajime Sorayama

Tokyo Pop Underground curated by Tokyo gallerist Shinji Nanzuka and currently at Jeffrey Deitch gallery in Los Angeles “explores the complex history of Japanese contemporary art from the 1960s to the present through the works of seventeen artists who emerged from pop and underground culture”.

From the press release-

Shinji Nanzuka explains that “originally in Japan, most of what is referred to as art are practical items, developed together and in integration with popular culture.” He cites examples from calligraphy to folding screens, paintings on sliding paper doors, lacquerware, netsuke, and the Ukiyo-e prints that served as posters and commercial portraits. He also mentions art historian Naoyuki Kinoshita’s study of intricately realistic handicrafts such as iki-ningyou, life-like dolls that were made for exhibitory performances. Nanzuka’s mission in this exhibition is to present contemporary artistic commentaries on this Japanese artistic heritage.

Deviating from the mainstream current of “art for art’s sake” when he opened his Tokyo gallery in 2005, Nanzuka decided to focus on artists whose works at the time were not considered to be art. Artists like Keiichi Tanaami, Harumi Yamaguchi, and Hajime Sorayama, whose works are now celebrated in the international art world, were looked down upon as producers of commercial and popular art. Nanzuka saw them as prime exponents of the idiosyncratic nature of Japan’s culture and history.

Another reason that Tanaami, Yamaguchi, Sorayama, and Toshio Saeki did not receive recognition until recently is the radical intensity of their practice. The expressions of sex and violence in their work are statements of anti-authority and anti-uniformity. The aggressive portraits of women painted by Harumi Yamaguchi show her engagement with the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s. Sorayama’s sexualized robots predict a dystopian future.

There are strong links between the underground Japanese culture from which many of these artists emerged and the American graffiti and skateboard subcultures that were embraced by Japanese youth. Haroshi, one of the younger artists in the show, constructs his works entirely from wood sliced from skateboards donated by friends and professional skateboarders to compose a collective portrait of his enlarged, international community.

The artists in Tokyo Pop Underground reflect the strains in contemporary Japanese culture as it rebuilt itself after the ruins of war and confronts numerous natural disasters. Their work reflects what Nanzuka describes as “the crazy cross-cultural exchange” between the West, the East, and the Far East, shaping a new international artistic language.

This exhibition closes 1/18/20.

Jan 102020
 

sweater man, 2017

Sand and Ice, 2017-19

Currently at Klowden Mann is Alexandra Wiesenfeld’s exhibition They found ritual and order but couldn’t see the real (year 3008), her fifth solo exhibition at the gallery.

From the press release-

The show features a series of large-scale oil paintings on canvas in which Wiesenfeld imagines a heightened future Earth–long after the climate has tipped–with few humans and very little evidence remaining of our time dominating the planet.  The works are non-narrative: abstracted landscapes formed in vivid colors, offering the state of mind and eye of a future on the other side of our current strategy of dominance at all costs, and its consequences…

Wiesenfeld’s new works are visual representations of a time past the context of the structures humanity has built, and the vast resources we have mined and violence we have justified to sustain them. In her statement, Wiesenfeld writes, “Painting these invented landscapes is as much about climate grief, escapism into a sci-fi world as an act of devotion to the beauty of the natural world, even if no longer viable for us. They are about the human need for myth-making when facing landscape alone.”

Wiesenfeld forms the paintings through layers of color without a referent; made from imagination and impulse, there are often many stories of imagery and tone under the final painting.  Several of the paintings include grids of colored dots that disappear and reappear on the surface, under and over forms that feel like rocks, flesh, plant life we have never seen. The dots often appear as a partially-formed system of analysis–visual schematics through which to understand land that is no longer familiar…

This show closes 1/11/20.

Jan 092020
 

Blum & Poe in Los Angeles is currently showing two very different exhibitions. In the main gallery is a selected survey of work by Harvey Quaytman spanning three decades.

From the press release-

Harvey Quaytman (b. 1937, Rockaway, NY; d. 2002, New York, NY) came of age in the downtown art scene of 1960s New York, living and working in SoHo studios first on Grand Street and later at 231 Bowery, where he would remain through the late ’90s. Long considered an artist’s artist, the painter enjoyed a close-knit and vibrant artistic and social milieu, over the years sharing studio addresses with Brice Marden, Ron Gorchov, and James Rosenquist, among others. Quaytman’s emerging career as a young painter began in the heyday of Ab Ex with a marked allegiance to Gorky and de Kooning. This approach was slowly shed as the decade unfolded, as his work began to lean towards sculpture—compositions with curvilinear shaped canvases and rectilinear U-shaped bases that inhabited a newfound objecthood. This was followed by a forty-year engagement with geometric abstraction, his approach to painting in contradistinction to the prevailing trends of the era—first with Pop Art and later Neo Expressionism. Despite painting being declared “dead” by Minimalist and Conceptual artists of the time, Quaytman maintained a commitment to the medium and to his vision throughout, helping to shape an alternate trajectory for American painting.

The artist’s work in the ‘70s developed into shield-like forms that balance on curved platforms, conjuring a motion that would result in a critic calling them “rocking rectangles”—the body of work later known simply as “rocker” paintings. These eccentrically shaped works were hand-crafted (he would steam and bend the wooden stretchers himself), and inherently related to movement—inspired by Islamic calligraphy, rocking chairs, and the flight patterns of airplanes and birds. His experiments with shape continued in the late ‘70s, and through the manipulation of geometric intersections and overlapping forms that all the while imply motion, a unique group of paintings resembling anchors or pendulums emerged. In the 1980s, Quaytman began his cruciform paintings, investigations of the cross shape not as emblem but as two meeting vectors; Constructivist, perpendicular geometric compositions that focused on the reduced palette of black, white, red, rusted iron, and metallic gold. While these paintings represented a stark departure from his previous work, Quaytman continued to pursue visual movement as he conjured an interplay of symmetry and asymmetry.

Many of the works become even more intriguing up close.  His use of different materials to achieve varying tones and textures makes them come alive.

The press release discusses a bit about his process in creating them-

As his paintings evolved in form and shape, variously touching upon Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Process Art, and Constructivism, Quaytman simultaneously developed a rigorous practice of experimentation with pigment. He was interested in the history, alchemy, and chromatic effects of color, seeking out unique tonalities at specialty stores at home and abroad, becoming a master of color and texture. He skillfully poured paint, spreading Rhoplex over canvas with broad wallpaper brushes after dusting it with pure pigment that settled in thick, unpredictable strata. He later flecked canvas with glass or iron filings and used additives such as marble dust in paint he always mixed himself. On this subject, he said: “It is very important to me to be reminded that I am not an alchemist but a man engaged in coded, layered conversation with my fellow man on what I hope to be (on another) level than words or music.”

On the second floor are Matt Johnson’s delightful sculptures whose familiar materials seem to defy gravity as they balance on each other in the compositions.

From the press release

In an ever-expanding practice in search of the peculiar and the sublime, Johnson elevates the mundane to the exceptional. With a new body of work in carved and polychromed wood sculpture, Johnson depicts configurations of raw industrial materials from cinder block, brick, rebar, to traffic cones—permutations of information composed according to gravity, balance, and primitive instinct. A crude horse, a procession of block figures, cantilevered props, and fragile towers make reference to the concept of knowledge with small gestures—a lighter, a match book, a lightbulb, an atlas, and a monograph on Matisse. The doweled joints of glue and/or epoxy between bricks, blocks, and bars exist here not to defy gravity but to freeze balance and preserve delicate moments of experimental groupings. Like a still life, these works are organized information, like subatomic particles, atoms and elements, molecules and compounds, glued by gravity, and magnetic polarity, surfing in a sea of electrical conductivity.

Both of these exhibitions close 1/11/20.

 

 

Jan 042020
 

A Chinese Dream by Wang Jin

First Class by Xu Bing

First Class (detail)

Closing 1/5/20 is The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China at LACMA.

From their website-

Since the 1980s, Chinese contemporary artists have cultivated intimate relationships with their materials, establishing a framework of interpretation revolving around materiality. Their media range from the commonplace to the unconventional, the natural to the synthetic, the elemental to the composite: from plastic, water, and wood, to hair, tobacco, and Coca-Cola. Artists continue to explore and develop this creative mode, with some devoting decades of their practice to experiments with a single material. The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China brings together works from the past four decades in which conscious material choice has become a symbol of the artists’ expression, representing this unique trend throughout recent history. Some of the most influential Chinese contemporary artists today are featured in this exhibition, including Xu Bing, Cai Guo-Qiang, Lin Tianmiao, and Ai Weiwei.

There are a lot of impressive pieces in the show, including Xu Bing’s First Class, pictured above. Inspired by a photograph of a tiger-skin rug in a colonial home in Shanghai, it was created using cigarettes, also considered a luxury item by many. 

Also pictured are Wang Jin’s imperial robes/theatrical costumes that were created using PVC and fishing wire- replacing the traditional silk material. According to the wall description, the title Chinese Dream “alludes to the commercialization of tradition”. Held up by thick metal chains, they are also much heavier than the originals they copy.

Jan 032020
 

Closing 1/5/20  at Hauser & Wirth’s Los Angeles location is Charles Gaines’ exhibition Palm Trees and Other Works. This exhibition will debut new works from his signature Gridworks series.

Using photographs of native trees from Palm Canyon near Palm Springs, Gaines selectively layers paint on acrylic sheets atop black and white photographs of corresponding landscapes with trees. Following this process, each tree is assigned a distinctive color and a numbered grid that reflects the positive space of the tree in the original photographic image.

The exhibition also includes new watercolor work and Manifesto 3– which takes Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech given at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (1967) and James Baldwin’s essay Princes and Powers (1957) and using a rule-based system to convert letters from the text into their equivalent musical notes creating a musical score.

From Hauser & Wirth’s website-

Reflecting on his personal history, Gaines observed that ‘one thing that made me different from other conceptual artists is that I was not shying away from language or meaning or content’ – a truth perhaps best exemplified by ‘Manifestos 3’ (2018). This work functions as a systematic transliteration of revolutionary manifestos into musical notation. The installation is comprised of two parts: a single channel video monitor that scrolls the manifesto texts, and two large graphite drawings of the music scores that were produced by the translation. Each text scrolls in succession on a monitor while a recording of the music produced by Gaines’s system plays. Created by way of a rule-based system, Gaines transcribes letters ‘A – H’ from the text into their equivalent musical notes. The use of the letter ‘H’ represents the code used in early Baroque tradition for B-flat. All other letters and spaces between words are noted as rests or silent beats. While the resulting composition does sound intentional, it is controlled only by the preconceived notation system that follows the compositional structure of language. This produces the fluidity that the audience hears.

The two political texts transcribed in ‘Manifestos 3’ are Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech given at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (1967), wherein King nominates racism, poverty, and war as the three most urgent problems of the contemporary world, and James Baldwin’s essay ‘Princes and Powers’ (1957) which describes the dominating power of cultural control. These two manifestos are systematically translated into the above described musical notations as written and arranged for piano by Gaines and edited by John Eagle.

This series not only takes social justice and politics on as its subject, but also as it may critique our understanding of the relationship of the practice of art and politics. By converting these powerful and poignant texts into music, Gaines unites the rational, mathematical, and lyrical structures of music with the irrationality of violence, racial tensions, and social injustice. The predetermined process developed by Gaines widens the distance between concepts and their interpretation, effectively removing the artist’s subjectivity while empowering the viewer’s. The combination of the elegiac music with the stirring words of the scrolling manifestos creates an unexpected conflict for the viewer; it is within this dissonance that the indelible truths of Gaines’s work are revealed.

 

Jan 032020
 

Death March, 2012

Death March, 2012 (detail)

Currently at Luis de Jesus Los Angeles is Hugo Crosthwaite’s incredible exhibition, TIJUAS!(Death March, Tijuana Bibles, and Other Legends).

From the press release-

Hugo Crosthwaite has spent much of his adult life working on both sides of the U.S. and Mexico border, observing and documenting the extraordinary ebb and flow of humanity that makes this region one of the most existentially dynamic places on the North American continent. In Tijuas!, Crosthwaite will present selections from several bodies of work that continue his exploration of this ever-evolving culture, among them the Tijuana Bibles, a new series of animated videos and books, recent graphite-and-ink on canvas and panel paintings, new Tijuanerias ink drawings, and Death March, a phenomenal and monumental work that preceded his celebrated performative murals. This will be the first time this work will be presented since it was commissioned in 2010 for Morbid Curiosity: The Richard Harris Collection at the Chicago Cultural Center.

This exhibition closes 1/4/20.

Dec 132019
 

 


Closing on 12/14/19 is Kenny Scharf’s current exhibition at Honor Fraser, Optimistically Melting!. The exhibition includes multiple installations, paintings, and sculptures- including new ceramic work.

From the press release-

After four decades of constant production, Scharf’s latest group of paintings introduces a new subject: the still life. The trope of flowers in a vase appears throughout Western art, notably in the work of artists such as Jan Brueghel the Elder, Vincent Van Gogh, and Andy Warhol. In Flores Flores Flores (2019), happy flowers spring from a vase casually set on a table at the center. Closer inspection finds a less happy flower at the edge of the table with X’s over its eyes, a cartoon signifier of death. Further, the viewer notices the drips of darkness in the background, adding to a growing sense of unease in the work, something sinister lurks behind the pleasant centerpiece. These signifiers of global anxiety become more overt in the artist’s Sloppy Melt series of paintings, also to be included in the exhibition, which feature dripping cartoon figures and screen-printed news headlines in English and Korean about climate change. With clear memories of smog days as a child growing up in Southern California, environmental concerns have appeared throughout Scharf’s oeuvre. The artist believes it is important to be mindful of future damage we will cause to the environment if we continue to prioritize comfort and ease in the present.

In the 80s, Kenny Scharf began collecting plastic detritus that he found along the beach in Brazil, where he was living at the time. The artist would assemble these discarded items into sculptures for the wall, giving them new life as aesthetic objects called Lixos (“trash” in Portuguese). Though the sculptural practice has continued intermittently, Scharf made a habit of collecting discarded plastics from around the world, which have not degraded over the years. More recently, the artist began collecting all of his single-use plastics and stringing them together as a garland around his studio, a constant reminder of daily waste. In light of the current reckoning with the overproduction of plastics and climate change denial, Scharf will present a new body of Lixos in the gallery along with a giant garland wrapped around the outside of the building. Materials for the garland will be collected at Honor Fraser Gallery throughout the summer and leading up to the exhibition. In addition to creating a personal alternative to recycling methods that require more toxic chemicals, Scharf aims to shine more light on this urgent issue. As in his paintings, deep concerns about our future lie beneath these brightly colored works.

Expanding his sculptural practice, Kenny Scharf will unveil a group of large ceramics featuring his signature characters in the round. Produced in collaboration with Stan Edmondson in Pasadena, these works were fired locally and hand-glazed by the artist. Bordering on living sculpture, the pots will contain greenery to be nurtured beyond the term of the exhibition, a gesture of possibility and hope rom the artist. In addition to converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, caring for plants has proven to be a beneficial practice for humans as it requires patience, reduces stress, and promotes close observation. These plants grown by the artist himself contain Scharf’s intention for a more respectful and conscientious future.