Nov 012019
 

It’s the last weekend to see Theaster Gates’ exhibition Line Drawing for Shirt and Cloak at Regen Projects in Los Angeles, closing 11/2/19.

From the press release

Line Drawing for Shirt and Cloak presents a complex reflection on desire, consumption and surrender using contemporary activations of the storefront as a vehicle for expressing both emotional and aesthetic intent. With a highly honed metal strategy and the artist’s entire wardrobe, this multi-faceted installation represents a conscious movement toward the freedom found when one’s appetite and the world’s insistence asks for everything, and a moment of clearing when emotive freedom is found.

Referencing the exhibition’s title, the gallery will be transformed by a series of free-standing and wall-mounted metal structures that demarcate the interior of the space, forming a series of line drawings onto which varying sculptural and quotidian works will hang. Additional sculptural forms supported by large stone pillars and large metal and wood platforms form the basis of an extant atelier. In preparation for the exhibition, Gates will transform his entire wardrobe into many smaller symbolic works, which will be placed en masse as a large sculptural work. This body of work, while a departure in material motif, underscores Gates’ ongoing interest in both the transcendental acts of reclusion and denouncement, and his inability to totally reconcile his appetite for spiritual truth with his competing desire for the things of this world. Through painting, sculpture, sound, and up-cycling, Gates continues to find truth in the unseen and evidence growth in ways unexpected.

A new vocal score conceived of and performed by Gates punctuates the exhibition space. The lyrics of the piece playfully riff on the biblical verse from which the exhibition’s title is inspired, and offer an explication for the artist’s metamorphosis.

“I’ve always been a lover of material things; fashion, antiques, adornment. A believer in the beautiful. But in this moment, I’ve never felt more need to question my own contempt and appetite. This process is not a spiritual attempt; it’s actually quite worldly. I can’t feel growth because I’m weighted by the things around me and people can’t see my growth. The accumulations are a distraction. But the title has much to do with what happens when the world charges you – the outside forces that judge and gnaw and hate. If the world wants to pursue me for this shirt, well, they can have it all.

The sculptural intent of the show is to introduce an unexpected spatial strategy at Regen that gives me permission to be free of conventional gallery tropes and form a set of new sculptural dictates that consider more of the everyday world of fashion and street activity. The project is a minor response to the growth of interest that the fashion world has in art and perhaps my own reckoning with the power of the hyper-public, hyper-everyday considerations that fashion affords. I’m in dialogue with Willie Wear, Girbaud, the Prada concern, retail projects in China, the historic fashions that Chicago House Music produced, and my mama’s church hats. While none of these things need to be immediately perceived, they are no-less present.” –Theaster Gates, 2019

Nov 012019
 

Closing 11/2 at Tanya Bonakdar’s Los Angeles location is Ernesto Neto’s interactive exhibition Children of the Earth.

From the press release-

In Children of the Earth, Neto creates an alluring environment of color, materials, fragrances and sound, transforming the gallery into a living organism, where visitors are encouraged to wander, touch, feel, interact and connect.

Upon entering the gallery, a curtain in green and brown patterns invites the viewer to walk through a tunnel-like path which leads to the main gallery space. Entitled Children of the Earth, a large-scale installation of crochet, spices and leaves hangs from the ceiling to the floor. The large biomorphic shape—hand knitted in vibrant colors of yellows, greens, purples and reds—is flanged by drop-shaped crochet vines that serve as counterbalance and establish the delicate equilibrium of the piece. Here, references to nature interconnect with formal questions of tension, gravity and weight. On the floor, tracing the outline of the structure above, a soft surface of handmade textile is installed. Ceramic vases sprout from the ground, representing the diversity of peoples inhabiting the planet, and that ultimately, we are all the children of the earth. Musical instruments, spices, and crystals comprise an integral part of this malleable, highly tactile sculpture, which engages the five senses, and invites viewers to connect with one another in new and meaningful ways. In expanding the boundaries of physical space and calling for a new type of interaction, Neto creates an experience that is physical, sensorial, intellectual and social all at once.

Surrounding the piece, as another layer of skin, hand-sewn fabric hangs. The organic pattern and color pallet further recall the natural world, as they invoke the forest, wood grain, or the circulatory system of a plant. The path the visitor follows throughout the space, and from within the piece—like an organic line in nature—is analogues to Neto’s conception of life where there is “no separation between humans and nature, nor between art making and art experience”, highlighting that in the exhibition, as in life, everything is connected.

In the back gallery a hanging platform with a crochet canopy and crochet tendrils is installed. Designed for direct interaction, this is a healing bed that offers a moment of rest and respite, where people can connect to themselves, as to one another.  The tendrils function as ‘connectors’, as they amplify the pulse of life while connecting us to the environment and to our own physicality. Embracing the participant in its serenity, the healing bed investigates the meeting point of art, sensation, personal connection and the human body.

The exhibition as a whole connects mind, body and nature through a sensory experience that is unmediated. It is an invitation to connect to ourselves and to our planet at a time when connectivity is most needed. For Neto, sculpture is an extension of the body, and the body is ultimately an extension of earth.

Oct 312019
 

Located in LACMA’s B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Garden among the sculptures by Rodin is Zak Ové’s sculptural installation, The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness.

From the LACMA’s website-

The title’s references—Ben Jonson’s 1605 play, The Masque of Blackness, and Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel, Invisible Man—mark two milestones in black history: the first stage production to utilize blackface makeup, and the first novel by an African American to win the National Book Award. In addition to literary references, the artist draws inspiration from Caribbean Carnival, a festival that originated from the Mardi Gras celebrations of the region’s French colonists, and Canboulay, a parallel celebration in which enslaved people expressed themselves through music and costume and paid homage to their African traditions. The installation’s 40 graphite figures stand tall and dignified to represent the strength and resilience of the African diaspora.

In the the video below, Ové  provides some interesting insight and information on the work.

This exhibition closes 11/3/19. LACMA is free for residents with ID from 3pm and is open late on Fridays until 8pm.

Oct 302019
 

Currently at Gladstone Gallery’s 21st Street Location in New York is Allora & Calzadilla’s exhibition Cadestre.

From the press release

The exhibition revisits the Surrealist encounter with the anti-colonial movement in the Caribbean to consider present forms of coloniality and its relation to climate justice. The artists have taken inspiration from the radical and transformative collection of poems by Martinican poet and politician Aimé Césaire under the same name. The term “cadastre” refers to the means by which the territorial limits of private property are publicly registered. Taking cue from the powerful mechanics of Césaire’s writing, Allora & Calzadilla’s exhibition Cadastre brings together three works all informed by a poetics of mark making, traces, and survival.

In April 1941, the anti-colonial Martinican poets and theoreticians Susanne and Aimé Césaire, founders of the literary journal Tropiques, met with a group of artists and intellectuals fleeing Nazi-occupied France, whose boat had temporarily docked at the West Indian port of Fort-de-France. The refugees included Helena Benitez, André Breton, Wifredo Lam, Jacqueline Lamba, Claude Lévi-Strauss, André Masson, and Victor Serge, among others. Penumbra takes as its point of departure the now mythic hikes the group took in the gouffre d’Absalom valley in Martinique, which served in part as inspiration for Lam’s masterpiece, The Jungle. Penumbra is a soundscape of “shadow tones,” a psycho-acoustic phenomenon perceived when two real tones create the semblance of a third. The original musical composition by David Lang uses nonlinear distortion of violin sounds to evoke the sensation of walking through that tropical forest.

In Graft, thousands of cast blossoms of the Tabebuia chrysantha tree, a common native species in the Caribbean, appear as though a wind had swept them across the gallery floor. Graft alludes to environmental changes set in motion through the interlocking effects of colonial exploitation and global climatic transformation. Systemic deforestation and depletion of the Caribbean’s original flora and fauna is one of the primary legacies of colonialism. Nevertheless, the Caribbean remains a biodiversity hotspot and, along with thirty-five other hotspots worldwide (which amount to just 2.4% of the earth’s land surface), supports nearly 60% of the world’s plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species. As rising global temperatures result in more frequent and violently destructive weather, adding even more pressure to the Caribbean, the uncanny presence of tropical tree blossoms in Graft stands as a potent harbinger for the immeasurable losses that continue unabated after centuries of colonial plunder.

Measuring 6 feet in height and 70 feet in length, and covering the east and south walls, the exhibition’s eponymous work, Cadastre takes electromagnetism as its subject and medium. To make the work, Allora & Calzadilla dropped iron filings on top of a canvas and placed it above an array of copper cables connected to an electrical breaker in the artists’ studio in San Juan, which gets its power from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. When the breaker is turned on, the electrical current causes the iron particles to self-organize into a composition of lines and shapes governed by the electromagnetic field. As the Latin title and full subtitle (Meter Number 18257262, Consumption Charge 36.9kWh x $0.02564, Rider FCA-Fuel Charge Adjusted 36.9 kWh x $0.053323, Rider PPCA-Purchase Power Charge Adjusted 36.9kWh x $0.016752, Rider CILTA-Municipalities Adjusted 36.9kWh x $0.002376, Rider SUBA Subsidies $1.084) suggest, the work probes the propriety politics of electricity and the power grid. Cadastre is part of a continuum of multiple sites and actors that the artists are probing through their artistic process working with electricity, from the oil futures market, to the transnational holders of PREPA bond debt, to the local consumers who are forced to pay for the recently privatized power company’s fiscal mismanagement.

This exhibition closes 11/2/19.

Recently, their film, The Great Silence, was shown at Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles. It is subtitled with thoughts from the perspective of an endangered Puerto Rican parrot who lives in the same area as the Arecibo Observatory, which was created to capture and transmit radio waves from and into outer space. The parrot questions why humans look to communicate and make a connection with extraterrestrial life, when there are parrots who can potentially use human language nearby.

It’s a thought provoking and moving piece, well worth a watch.

Oct 292019
 

Closing this week on 11/1/19 is Enrique Martínez Celaya’s exhibition The Tears of Things, at Kohn Gallery.

From the press release-

This new body of work consists of a series of paintings and one sculpture that revolve around three dualities: our alienation from and interconnectedness with all that there is, the absurdity and redeeming possibility of embarking, and the tension between promise and risk. The imagery brings together skaters, ice-covered lakes, black apple trees, golden landscapes, bullfighting, moonlit butterflies, and whale bones. The work featured in The Tears of Things continues Martínez Celaya’s concern with displacement and exile in its psychological sense, while deepening his ongoing exploration of the limitations and possibilities of art’s capacity to reveal or create meaning.

Martínez Celaya is widely celebrated for a practice that arises from sustained engagement with literature, poetry, philosophy, and science, as well as his own writing practice. An artist, author and former physicist, he works in a variety of mediums and materials that include oil, wax, tar, mirrors, dirt, steel, silk and bronze, which he weaves together with physical, emotional and conceptual qualities into a multi-layered exploration of the human condition evoking both immediacy and timelessness. His practice is laden with a depth of textures and philosophical touchstones, often incorporating elements of mysticism and fairy tales, yet he creates works that resist narrative interpretations. His paintings, sculptures, photographs and environments address universal questions about life and the individual experience, loss, memory, failure and one’s place in an emotionally radiant yet chaotic world.

 

Oct 252019
 

Paris-based Algerian artist Mohamed Bourouissa’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, Pour une poignée de Dollars (For A Fistful of Dollars), at Blum & Poe, combines film, sculpture, drawing and photography to expand on his project Horse Day, also on view at the gallery.

From the press release-

Initially driven to capture his own community and generation of immigrant youth living in the outskirts of Paris, in recent years Bourouissa’s focus has expanded to the US, the UAE, and beyond. In 2014 the artist spent nearly a year in North Philadelphia, PA living among the young men of the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, a non-profit established over 100 years ago by African American cowboys. This area increasingly struggles with unemployment and drug abuse, economic and social conditions from which the center attempts to provide a refuge—rescuing horses and mentoring boys who may otherwise find support hard to come by. Bourouissa instigated a collaboration with the community of riders and local artists—a riding competition and pageant called “Horse Day” in which equestrian participants arrived clad in decadent regalia, costumes including linked blank CDs, streamers, fake flowers, or fabric Pegasus wings. Using the cowboy as an emblem of a narrative of domination, the critical documents Bourouissa and the Fletcher Street community produced—sculptures, costumes, drawings, photography, and a video mixing tropes of westerns, documentaries and hip-hop—explore social injustice as it relates to geographical space, spotlight contemporary America’s culture of segregation, and intend to forge a new creative space for marginalized groups. Within a new body of sculptural work, the artist integrates images of riders and/or horses into the body parts of automobiles, as curator Okwui Enwezor once put it: “Bringing together two myths, the cowboy and the urban lowrider with his customized car, a sort of collision of the frontier and Compton.” This 3-D montage connects representations of domination and power, as well as industries and communities facing crisis.

Bourouissa’s work focuses on rituals of friendship, an exploration of alterity and the role images play in channels of distribution, investigations into the politics of representation and subjectivity. Seeking to humanize his community as social subjects, Bourouissa engages all sorts of imagery, initiating agency where is it often deprived. Bourouissa’s work is a hybrid of documentation and formal composition, collaborative choreographed representations of reality on the margins, channeling a wide range of historical precedents from Caravaggio and Delacroix to Fanon, rap music, and the Harlem Renaissance.

In a separate space behind the main gallery is Anya Gallaccio’s Stroke (pictured below), a room where the walls are painted with dark chocolate.  The work was originally created in September of 1994, for Blum & Poe’s inaugural exhibition at their original location in Santa Monica. Twenty-five years later, it has been recreated in an exhibition space the exact dimensions of the original gallery.

It’s worth checking out for the smell alone. It’s overpowering.

From the press release-

Stroke plays with perceptions of desire and their disconnection from reality. In this chocolate-covered room, an idea pulled from a childlike fantasy comes to life and goads the viewer’s appetite for pleasure. The whimsical notion of an edible room is contrasted with the strikingly rich, dark color of the walls and their heavy, sometimes putrid, smell. Of this disconnect, Gallaccio states, “the idea of a chocolate room is one thing, and the reality of a chocolate room is very much something else.” Created by thousands of small, repeated brush strokes for which the installation is named, prolonged looking is rewarded when one sees new colors, textures, and patterns appearing out of the darkness.

Rooted in the formal language of Minimalism, Gallaccio’s practice uses organic materials to subvert and reframe that male-dominated moment in art history. Trees, flowers, fruit, and ice are investigated for their fluidity and impermanence, and decay becomes a part of the installation to be embraced. The unpredictability of these ephemeral materials yields a freeing inability to control the final product, from which unexpected results emerge. These materials, pulled from a feminine, domestic space, challenge a masculine past and reclaim a place in history. As noted in the original press release from 1994: “Feminist in material, natural in its decay, subversively Freudian, Stroke is an enigmatic and challenging work.”

 

Both of these exhibitions close 10/26/19.

Oct 242019
 

 

Tammi Campbell’s exhibition Boring Art at Anat Ebgi in Culver City takes on the male dominated art world canon in a fun way. She’s recreated iconic works and then covered them with bubble wrap, packaging tape, and cardboard corners. But yet those materials are an illusion. They have been made with acrylic painting medium.

From the press release-

The gesture of covering these works emphasizes the preciousness of the goods they contain, while simultaneously highlighting the frequently invisible network of art world laborers, art handlers, shippers, registrars, studio assistants, etc. who support and care for them as they circulate. The coverings also obscure the originals and draw our attention to their fixed state of transition.

…Campbell is concerned with memorializing art history, while also making a break from it. Her work literally envelopes, secures, and mummifies historical paintings; it asks viewers to ponder what is valued and allows us to imagine making room for something new. Full of contradictions, Campbell’s work pays homage to the past, while simultaneously taking it hostage.

The title, Boring Art, is a reference to John Baldessari’s I Will Not Make Anymore Boring Art, but this exhibition is anything but dull. See it before it closes on 10/26/19.

 

 

 

Oct 222019
 

Alex Prager’s exhibition at Lehmann Maupin’s 22nd Street location combines sculpture and still photography with her new film Play The Wind. The photographs in the show recreate scenes from the film, but are not from the film itself.  There are also photos of scenes that could have been from the film, but are not. These allow the viewer to consider alternate narratives to the story they have just seen. The photos also offer an opportunity to see many of the details from the film seen only briefly while watching.

Running for eight minutes, Play the Wind is a journey into a bizarre version of Los Angeles. It’s seen mainly through the window of a car, the way many Los Angeles residents often see it. Places seem familiar, as do many of the large cast of extras who inhabit this world, even if you are not personally familiar with the city.

The cab driver, played by Dimitri Chamblas (dean of the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at CalArts), drives through situations that seem both surreal and possible at the same time, like many things that happen in LA. At one point the cab driver, drives past an accident on the highway and sees a car vertical between two other cars with children in a school bus leaning out of the windows to observe. He passes alongside and moves on. It’s just another moment in a chaotic Los Angeles day. When he locks eyes with a woman played by actress Riley Keough, the film changes to her perspective and it all becomes even more dreamlike.

From the press release

…She anchors her characteristically elaborate fictional scenes within the real Los Angeles, shooting for the first time in many years primarily on location rather than in the studio—a decision that harkens back to when Prager began her career over a decade ago. Though the images contain large constructed set pieces and are populated with carefully cast extras (numbering up to 300), the presence of the Los Angeles streets infuses an element of urban lifeblood that is palpable in the work. Prager’s perception of Los Angeles is one of the artifice and drama befitting Hollywood, with real world chaos that overflows into sci-fi dystopia and post-apocalyptic dread. She toys with these visions of the city disseminated on film, TV, and within the popular imagination, which inform our characterization of a place as much as our own memories.

Technically important to the making of this film was Prager’s collaboration with a team to produce set designs and props that would add a layer of artifice and duplicity to her real-world locations. The interference of these traditional illusionary effects upon the actual Los Angeles streets and locations Prager shot on creates an unnerving sensation, hinting at the reality that might exist just outside of our perception. All of these elements are recast in the series of photographs, which appear in different configurations or on various scales that further destabilize any linear narrative. Drawing on the concept of a distorted memory, Prager has found ways to incorporate objects seen in the photographs and film into the gallery as sculpture, with the intent to further dislodge our understanding of place and time and bring us deeper into her highly constructed world.

Connoisseurs of Prager’s work will likely spot the references to her past series, such as the noir themed Compulsion (2012), or the archetypical ingénue of The Big Valley (2008). This self-referencing becomes yet another layering device, mixing Prager’s career-spanning themes and the greater art historical genres from which they are drawn to create work both entirely new, yet seemingly familiar. Prager’s incorporation of her past into her present work serves as a reminder that while the past may not be returned to, it does remain with us, appearing in surprising, sometimes unsettling ways.

This exhibition closes 10/26/19.

Oct 182019
 

“Crescent (Timekeeper)”

“Crescent (Timekeeper)”

“Crescent (Timekeeper)” Detail

Sarah Sze’s exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar’s gallery in New York is stunning. There is so much to look at, to appreciate. There are so many pieces to all of the work, and yet it never feels overwhelming. It makes you want to keep looking.

It’s also immersive. The windows on the outside of the gallery are covered in her work, as is the staircase alcove. The video projections in the main room travel all around the room, surrounding you with visuals and sound. Upstairs the floors of the gallery have paint splattered on them, accompanying the works on the walls.

Detail of the above work

In a room on the first floor is a “studio space” where you can gain insight into Sze’s process and how she makes these elaborate works.

From the press release-

Sze’s latest body of work frays “the seam between the real and the image” (Smith). Through complex constellations of objects and a proliferation of images, Sze expands upon the never- ending stream of visual narratives that we negotiate daily, from magazines and newspapers, television and iPhones, to cyberspace and outer space. The works evoke the generative and recursive process of image-making in a world where consumption and production are more interdependent, where the beginning of one idea is the ending of another—and where sculpture gives rise to images, and images to sculpture.

In this new exhibition, Sze expands her work by embedding her nuanced sculptural language into the material surfaces of painting and into the digital realm through the interplay of cloth, ink, wood, paper, metal, paint, found objects, light, sound and structural supports—collapsing distinctions between two, three and four dimensions. This body of work fundamentally alters our sense of time, place, and memory by transforming our experiences of the physical world around us. Both objects and images, Sze says, are “ultimately reminders of our own ephemerality”.

This exhibition closes 10/19/19.

 

 

Oct 102019
 

From the press release-

Klowden Mann is proud to present San-Diego-based artist Andrea Chung’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, … Only to meet nothing that wants you. The exhibition features large-scale cyanotype works depicting under-sea images of coral that have then been bleached with sugar crystals—a material woven throughout Chung’s practice for over a decade in reference to its relationship to colonialism in the Caribbean. The cyanotypes are placed in context with a brass chandelier that recalls designs from the 19th century; where crystals would hang, Chung has hung glass vials filled with sugar in various shades.

Chung’s practice often utilizes perishable and precious materials with strong underlying histories, forming relationships to pre-emancipation images of the Caribbean, touristic misrepresentations of people and place, the export or import of goods and materials, and the labor of the human body. Completing the quote by Nayyirah Waheed that Chung used as the title of her first solo museum exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in 2017, “You broke the ocean in half to be here,” the title of the exhibition at Klowden Mann answers with the second half of the phrase, “…Only to meet nothing that wants you.”

In the cyanotype works, coral bleaching becomes a metaphor for colonialism, and the expanding of the philosophy and impact of imperialism on colonial populations and cultures. The addition of sugar crystals to the already highly sensitive cyanotypes underlines Chung’s interest in creating work that defies the notion of artworks as static objects that are meant to remain unchanging and unyielding in the face of shifting environments and time; in a way that also reflects the constant uncontrolled and irresponsible effects of human actions on the environment, and on vulnerable populations. The works are intended to shift and change over the course of the exhibition, as the sugar embeds further in the cyanotype, falls, and expands. The works are linked to the environment in which they are placed in a way that Chung cannot predict and control—and along with the chandelier, ask the audience to consider who pays for the superficial opulence and beauty to which so many have become accustomed.

The work in this exhibition is really stunning, and the fact that it is work that is changing with time, makes seeing it feel even more special. Like so much of the beauty in the world, and especially in nature, you appreciate it, while wondering how long it will still be around to be seen.

This exhibition closes 10/12/19.