Apr 052019
 

Faces Places– Official Trailer

Agnés Varda passed away last Friday (3/29) at the age of 90. The French film director, photographer, and artist was known for her work in the French New Wave film movement as well as her unique documentaries.

If you have a Los Angeles library card (or are a member of another library- many cities are included) you can stream several of her films using Kanopy including-

Cleo From 5 to 7, a fictional real-time portrait of a singer in Paris in the sixties who is waiting on the results of her cancer biopsy.

Jane B. Par Agnés V., an “imaginary bio-pic” of  real life actress, fashion icon, and muse, Jane Birkin

Kung-Fu Master!, Jane Birkin plays a woman in her 40s who falls in love with a 14 year old boy (played by Varda’s son Mathieu Demy)

The Beaches of Agnés, a cinematic self portrait and a great introduction to the artist and her work

Cinevardaphoto, is composed of three short films exploring the photographic medium- one is a portrait of woman who collects teddy bear photos and the exhibition she creates from them; in the second Varda revisits a photograph she made on the beach of a man, a child and a dead goat- it includes a discussion of the work with the participants, including the boy from the photo who is now a man; the third is comprised of pictures and footage from a trip to Cuba made during the revolution’s early days

Daguerreotypes,  a documentary about the shops and shopkeepers of Rue Daguerre, where Varda has resided for more than fifty years

Faces Places, which she co-directed with the artist JR, was her second to last film and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. The charming film follows Varda and JR as they travel throughout France in his truck, photographing people and creating murals along the way. This film can also be seen on Netflix.

Varda gave a Tedx Talk last year on “how three ideas central to the life of an artist – inspiration, creation, and sharing – have shaped her career over seven decades of filmmaking.” It’s a great example of how inspiring she herself was, as an artist and as a person.

Mar 212019
 

Noboru Tsubaki “Fresh Gasoline”, 1989

Yukinori Yanagi “Ground Transposition”, 1987/2019 (balloons) and Shinro Ohtake “Retina (Night Fever 1)”, 1990 (left on wall) and “Retina (DNA Shadow III)” (right on wall), 1990

Shinro Ohtake “Retina (DNA Shadow III)”, 1990

 

Blum & Poe’s current exhibition Parergon: Japanese Art of the 1980s and 1990s, is a selected survey exhibition of Japanese art of the 1980s and ‘90s, curated by Mika Yoshitake. It includes the work of over twenty-five visual artists in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, video, and photography.

From the press release

The exhibition title makes reference to the gallery in Tokyo (Gallery Parergon, 1981-1987) that introduced many artists associated with the New Wave phenomenon, its name attributed to Jacques Derrida’s essay from 1978 which questioned the “framework” of art, influential to artists and critics during the period. Parergon brings together some of the most enigmatic works that were first generated during a rich two-decade period that are pivotal to the way we perceive and understand contemporary Japanese art today. In the aftermath of the conceptual reconsideration of the object and relationality spearheaded by Mono-ha in the 1970s, this era opened up new critical engagements with language and medium where artists explored expansions in installation, performance, and experimental multi-genre practices.

When the U.S. and Europe were witnessing a return to Expressionism alongside a postmodern aesthetic of simulacra and deconstruction characterized by the Pictures generation, this zeitgeist of cultural capitalism was instead manifest under Japan’s unique social and geo-political conditions resulting from the rise and burst of the bubble economy. Artists began to explore subversive artistic languages and integrate underground subcultures into their practice using a variety of media, ranging from experimentations in electro-acoustic music, geopolitical and conceptual photography, and appropriations of advertisement culture. Others addressed the internalization of historical avant-garde and modernist aesthetics that were filtered through a new poetics of form, space, and language.

In the post-1989 Hirohito era, politics of gender, nuclear crisis, and critique of nationalism are especially poignant among artists from the Kansai region. This period also witnesses the rise of art collectives in the mid-90s and their darkly humorous performances and conceptual practices that reevaluated the history of Japan’s postwar avant-garde. These events reflect on a subculture generated out of a profoundly unique “infantile capitalism,” anticipating the explosive rise of the Neo-Pop generation.

This exhibition is presented on the occasion of Blum & Poe’s 25-year anniversary. Parergon commemorates a special facet of the gallery’s history rooted in this very timeframe in Japan—with Tim Blum’s early years as an art dealer and curator spent in Tokyo in the early ‘90s—and charts a bridge between the Japanese art historical territories the gallery has long championed. Parergon pursues the creative significance of the years between the milestones of Mono-ha and the Neo-Pop generation now synonymous with Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara.

This exhibition closes 3/23/19. Part II will open 4/6/19.

 

Mar 062019
 

Currently at The Rendon Gallery, at a pop-up space on Palmetto Street, is Los Angeles based South African artist Ralph Ziman’s exhibition, The Casspir Project. The Casspir is a massive military vehicle that was used to terrorize the civilian population in South Africa during the apartheid-era. Sadly, they are still used by police forces in certain parts of the world, including in the United States. Ziman, with a team of artists from Zimbabwe and the Mpumalanga province of South Africa, have covered the Casspir in brightly colored beads in traditional patterns, making something beautiful out of what was once a symbol of horror.

Although the vehicle is the centerpiece, the exhibition also focuses on the arms trade and includes photos, a video, and additional beaded work. From the press release-

For this iteration of The Casspir Project, Ziman has designed the massive gallery space with a “macro and micro” experience in mind. Each room within the gallery space brings context to the next, informing the project as whole. The exhibition starts with an installation of brightly colored AK-47s leading into a room with large photographs taken in Soweto. For the photos, Ziman recreated scenes from newspapers during the apartheid, incorporating many of the elements found within the exhibition such as the beaded guns and SPOEK 1. A screening room shows a 20 minute documentary by Ziman which tells the history of the Casspir, from its design and conception to people’s personal experiences with it in the ‘70s and ‘80s. It chronicles Ziman’s reclaiming of the Casspir, detailing how he transformed and Africanized it. The exhibition culminates with the dramatic presentation of SPOEK 1, lit only by a spotlight in a dark room.

Opening a dialogue between those who remember and those too young to know, The Casspir Project is a profound attempt to reconcile history. Ziman has reclaimed the savagely violent brute—embellished and bedazzled, the Casspir has been made less threatening, its power and authority subverted.

This exhibition has been extended through 3/10/19 and this weekend Ziman will be live painting at the gallery with artist Keya Tama.

 

 

Mar 022019
 

What are the webs within our own lives? How are we connected to others? What is seen and not seen in our world? How do we function within our environment? What is created without our even noticing?

Tomás Saraceno’s current exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in Hollywood, his first ever solo exhibition in Los Angeles, explores these ideas through the intersection of science and art. In one room, balloons drag pens to create drawings from the air and movements of those who wander through. Spider webs (displayed without the spiders) play an important part in weaving together the themes of the exhibition. Made by different species of spider and dyed with carbon ink, they are in frames against the wall. Presented in another part of the gallery, in a dark room, they are spot lit creating beautiful three dimensional sculptures. In another room, in full darkness, they are lit by a slowly moving laser which highlights in red various sections of the webs as others fade away.

In the front room of the gallery is a sculpture that continues the artist’s Cloud Cities body of work (pictured below). Cloud Cities was shown on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2012.

 

From the press release-

… Conceived and inspired by the geometries of soap bubbles, the cluster-like artworks are composed of a number of interconnected modules, some with web-like structures set within them, which form geometric constellations inspired by the Weaire-Phelan structure. The Cloud Cities project is intimately tied to and embodied in the Aerocene Foundation, a community that proposes an epoch free from fossil fuel emissions, which challenges socio-political atmospheres by trespassing and weaving new, much needed, aerographies.

Cloud Cities are fictional urban and socioscapes in such imagined post-Anthropocenic future. These sculptural assemblages whose interplay between being tethered to the Earth whilst inviting our gaze to the sky, are devoted to reimagining life in tune and in collaboration with the atmosphere. Indeed, with 102,465 planes and about 8.3 million people traversing the atmosphere every day, swarms of particulate matter crossing borders and billions of pounds of carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuel aerial transportation, there is an entire metropolis up in the air already, coming with a huge cost and carbon print. The elemental imaginaries of Cloud Cities and Aerocene epoch call to open up the boundaries of the Earth toward a new interplanetary ecology of practice. We can reconnect with elemental sources of energy and form a new set of values that would overcome the extractive economies of the fossil fuel regime – a new stratigraphy of the future.

This exhibition closes 3/2/19.

 

 

Feb 162019
 

This month there are a lot of excellent exhibitions on view in Chelsea.

At David Zwirner is God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin, a group show curated by writer Hilton Als. The works are varied and include portraits by Richard Avedon (shown above), a friend of Baldwin’s who also attended De Witt Clinton High School with him, as well work by Njideka Akunyili Crosby (seen below), Kara Walker, James Welling, Beuford Delaney, Glenn Ligon and many more.

Nyado: The Thing Around Her Neck, 2011 by Njideka Akunyili Crosby

At Marianne Boesky Gallery is Pure, Very, New, Paul Stephen Benjamin’s first solo exhibition in New York. The exhibition includes paintings, photographs, sculpture, and single and multi-channel video installations, as well as a new site-specific black light installation in the internal passageway between the two spaces.

From the press release

Benjamin’s practice is rooted in a vigorous meditation on blackness, considering: “What is the color black?” “What does black sound like?” “Is it an adjective, a verb, an essence, or all of these components mixed to create a nuanced whole?” For his large-scale monochromatic paintings, Benjamin thickly coats the canvas in varying shades of black, producing a sensation of boundless depth. This is further accentuated by Benjamin’s application of the particular tonality’s name within the field of color—the words appearing to float and dissipate within the richness of the paint itself. The development of these paintings followed an ordinary visit to a hardware store, where Benjamin was confronted with the many permutations of commercial black paint. Shades of black came with emotive titles like “Totally Black,” “New Black,” and “Pure Black,” among numerous others. For Benjamin, this sparked a multi-layered investigation of the color and whether it could be distilled or understood differently within the context of a painting or the color itself.

 … Benjamin’s practice also extends into a conceptual investigation of sound, and how “black” can be conveyed and experienced aurally. In these works, he often uses single and multi-channel video installations to loop portions of particular historic and cultural footage to isolate fragments of collective memories or internalized narratives. With Black is the Color (2015), which will be included in the exhibition, Benjamin arranges a towering cluster of antiquated televisions, forming a glowing grid that endlessly repeats a segment of Nina Simone’s 1959 performance of “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair.” Here, Benjamin appropriates only the words “Black is the Color,” creating an abstraction of the song that reveals the contradictions and parallels between the notion of black being the color and it being a color. Moving fluidly from sound installation to painting to photography and sculpture, Benjamin’s practice is driven by the idea that blackness, whether explored as a matter of conceptual inquiry or identity, cannot be captured in a single action, emotion, or language.

Black Is The Color 2015 by Paul Stephen Benjamin

At Yancey Richardson is Blue Sweep, an exhibition of Andrew Moore’s beautiful photographs, taken in Alabama and Mississippi over the course of three years.

Carmen, Saunders Hall, AL 2015 by Andrew Moore

At Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery is Oliver Jeffers’ charming painting exhibition For All We Know. If his work looks familiar it may be because Jeffers is also the author of several critically acclaimed picture books.

From the press release

This series of paintings illuminate a dream-like nocturnal world populated by astronauts, deep-sea divers, sinking ships, floating pianos, and burning matches. Omnipresent throughout are the night sky and the ocean – the two great and unknown frontiers – glittered with the imaginary lines that create constellations, serving in this case as a mysterious key to unlock our world.

Expanding on years of observation, from the history of his upbringing in Belfast, to contemporary New York City, Jeffers’ evokes the precarious state of our home and its inhabitants. Inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s seminal book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, he presents pianos as dubious flotation devices and our planet presented as a cumbersome motor vehicle, overheating as we argue over what to play on the radio. From researching astronaut’s descriptions of looking at Earth from the distance of the Moon, Jeffers noticed certain recognizable patterns to the way in which he discussed the politics of his hometown from a vantage point of across the Atlantic Ocean. In finding that few people outside of Northern Ireland knew or cared of the intricate conflict there, a great waste of time was revealed: a divided population identical to each other in every way save for the flags they flew and the stories they told. Tragically, each side’s identity are still firmly rooted to the existence of the other, and therefore locked into a spiral of repeated patterns.

 

At both of Jack Shainman’s locations are a series of impressive paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

Black Allegiance to the Cunning, 2018 by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

 

For a new kind of exhibition experience, Asad Raza has organized the group show Life to Come, at Metro Pictures which “brings together works that meditate on the creation of new worlds and new models for living.” There are no labels or listings for the works included in the show. Instead there is a guided tour by hosts who take you around the various works to help you draw connections between the objects. Adding to the uniqueness of the experience, at one point the host pauses while talking and partially in motion, recreating a work by artist Tino Sehgal, and at another they show you that they have changed their eye color, a work by Rirkrit Tiravanija.

From the press release

Experiencing these works together incites intellectual, physical, and spiritual understandings of what it means to make an entirely new world, one in which reality is made from fiction. Raza asserts that “by re-immersing ourselves in the strangeness and fecundity of attempts to create worlds that have gone before, our imagination of a world beyond the present may be renewed.” The uncertainty about what new paradigm awaits us is unsettling in the wake of the modernist 20th century, but it links us to previous generations who experienced radical reinventions of biological and social life.

Philippe Parreno, La pierre qui parle (The Speaking Stone), 2018.

 

Selection of work by Camille Henrot (floral arrangements inspired by books)

All of these exhibitions close 2/16/19.

 

 

Feb 162019
 

While we are living in a time where anxiety is prevalent, it’s nice to imagine being as calm as Superchill, the title character of Hannah Epstein’s comic strip, and star of her exhibition Do You Want A Free Trip To Outer Space? at Steve Turner gallery. The show combines hooked rugs, video animation, and a video game that you can play, all creating a fun little world to inhabit for awhile.

Also in the gallery’s other rooms are Jamie Felton’s painting show Parts from an Oyster and Paige Jiyoung Moon’s paintings for Days of Our Lives.

All three exhibitions close 2/16/19.

Nearby at Regen Projects is Glenn Ligon’s exhibition of new work, Untitled (America)/Debris Field/Synecdoche/Notes for a Poem on the Third World.

From the press release

Over the years, Ligon has created neon sculptures that illuminate various phrases or words in charged and animated ways. Notes for a Poem on the Third World, Ligon’s first figurative sculpture, is comprised of a large neon based on a tracing of the artist’s hands that takes its inspiration from an unrealized film project by Pier Paolo Pasolini that was to be shot in India, Africa, the Arab countries, Latin America, and the “black ghettoes of the United States.” Pasolini claimed that it was the “discovery of the elsewhere” that drove his identification with the struggles of non-Western peoples and people on the margins of the West. Ligon’s neon, with its ambiguous gesture of greeting, protest, or surrender, is the first of a series of works inspired by Pasolini’s project.

Also featured in the exhibition is Untitled (America), 2018, a black-painted red neon in which the word “America” is displayed upside down, and Synecdoche (For Byron Kim), a neon showing the date of the next presidential election that will be lit on that day.

 

This exhibition closes 2/17/19.

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 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.