May 212020
 

A section of Yayoi Kusama’s installation at the now permanently closed Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles.

Feb 272020
 

Currently at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. gallery in New York is on the lower frequencies I speak 4U (alquimia sagrada), a solo exhibition of work by william cordova.

From the press release-

For the artist’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery, cordova has developed a multi-media installation seeking to explore “the juxtaposition of past structures to more contemporary structures that illuminate the ephemeral nature of our existence, as beings who create material culture as a means of documentation and memory.”

The exhibition incorporates large-scale drawing collages, photography, and sculpture into an environment that reflects on abstract forms rooted in sacred geometries, while also drawing from historical moments and monuments of resistance. Two large scale sculptures, untitled (RMLZ), and untitled (palenque), reference both Brutalist and pre-Columbian architecture, specifically the temple-Citadel sites at Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo. Incorporating the architectural motifs found at these sites, such as zigzags and grids, cordova’s sculptures thread an ephemeral repository, meditating on the concepts of image encoding from biological, natural, galactic, and cultural sources. The sculptures disrupt the formal structure of the gallery, creating alternative perceptions of space and time.

In his series rumi maki, william cordova takes on an ethnographic approach in addressing shared symbolism found in textile data encoding and architectural design. Named after the ancient Andean martial arts, rumi maki consists of multi-colored collages on paper, constructed from vivid layers of recycled paint chips. The arrangement of colors and patterns carry latent meanings, dependent on geography, culture, and the readings of celestial bodies. As cosmological maps, the collages synthesize the sacred geometries of architecture with the visual narratives of historical civilizations. Its form also recalls pioneering early video installation artist Beryl Korot, and her contributions to the 1970s video journal Radical Software.

ogun (el siglo de silencio) sees the artist return to large-scale collage on paper after several years focused on site-specific installations and smaller-scaled work. This work introduces viewers to a new series titled el quinto suyo (the fifth suyo), collages culled from reclaimed paint chip samples and recycled cardboard pigmented with old discarded oil stick paint. Literary references permeate cordova’s collages; texts such as El Siglo de Las Luces by Alejo Carpentier, El Monte by Lydia Cabrera and Decimas by Nicomedes Santa Cruz point to his ongoing interest in the distribution of power, spirituality, and labyrinths of perception.

In the back gallery is an exhibition of paintings (pictured below) by Josephine Halvorson, titled On The Ground.

From the press release-

On The Ground, also the title of her essay in Art In America (June/July 2018), continues Halvorson’s exploration of the ground—as a motif, material, and metaphor. Each painting registers an area of ground through Halvorson’s close observation and pictorial description, while its accompanying surround incorporates crushed rocks and debris from the site of the painting’s making. Together, they realize a faithful translation of place and time. The work in this exhibition was made in the Berkshire mountains, the Mojave Desert, and Matanzas, Cuba.

These hybrid paintings are made with gouache, site material, dry pigment, and printmaking. They expand Halvorson’s on-site practice of transcribing direct experience by hand. While her previous work in oil allowed her encounter with an object to congeal over the course of a day, Halvorson has turned to gouache, a fast drying and graphic medium, which, like handwriting, records her observations in real time. Her paint application is indelible and fresco-like, transferring color from the brush into the absorbent ground of the panel.

Touching down at various points of interest—a piece of plastic, a blade of grass—Halvorson’s notational marks establish a correspondence between environment, painting, and viewer. Like a map, they depict the literal scape of the ground while offering an escape from mimesis. The reality of proximity breaks down as one gets lost in the archeology of a single stride. Gravel becomes galactic. The surround acts as a legend or key, a space for evidence and tools of calibration. A ruler, coins, or color chart orient the onlooker in terms of scale and perception, and the site material indexes the painting to its original locale. These are paintings of verification and memorialization. They ask how we make sense of what we see, how we express that witnessing, and how an account of experience is made concrete.

Both of these exhibitions close 2/29/20.

Feb 202020
 

Mary Jane, 2008

Untitled, 2015

 

1975 (8), 2013

Painting for My Dad, 2011

The “Fitz”, 2015

Black Widow, 2007

Leni Riefenstahl, 2010

Artist Noah Davis’s superb paintings are currently on view at David Zwirner gallery’s two 19th Street locations in New York until 2/22. Although his career was brief, he died in 2015, what he accomplished in his life is admirable.

From the press release

Davis’s body of work encompasses, on the one hand, his lush, sensual, figurative paintings and, on the other, an ambitious institutional project called The Underground Museum, a black-owned-and-operated art space dedicated to the exhibition of museum-quality art in a culturally underserved African American and Latinx neighborhood in Los Angeles. The works on view will highlight both parts of Davis’s oeuvre, featuring more than twenty of his most enduring paintings, as well as models of previous exhibitions curated by Davis at The Underground Museum. The exhibition also includes a “back room,” modeled on the working offices at The Underground Museum, featuring more paintings by Davis, as well as BLKNWS by Davis’s brother Kahlil Joseph; a sculpture by Karon Davis, the artist’s widow; and Shelby George furniture, designed by Davis’s mother Faith Childs-Davis.

Helen Molesworth notes:

Noah Davis (b. Seattle, 1983; d. Ojai, California, 2015) was a figurative painter and cofounder of The Underground Museum (UM) in Los Angeles. Despite his untimely death at the age of thirty-two, Davis’s paintings are a crucial part of the rise of figurative and representational painting in the first two decades of the twenty-first century.

Loneliness and tenderness suffuse his rigorously composed paintings, as do traces of his abiding interest in artists such as Marlene Dumas, Kerry James Marshall, Fairfield Porter, and Luc Tuymans. Davis’s pictures can be slightly deceptive; they are modest in scale yet emotionally ambitious. Using a notably dry paint application and a moody palette of blues, purples, and greens, his work falls into two loose categories: There are scenes from everyday life, such as a portrait of his young son, a soldier returning from war, or a housing project designed by famed modernist architect Paul Williams. And there are paintings that traffic in magical realism, surreal images that depict the world both seen and unseen, where the presence of ancestors, ghosts, and fantasy are everywhere apparent.

Generous, curious, and energetic, Davis founded, along with his wife, the sculptor Karon Davis, The Underground Museum, an artist- and family-run space for art and culture in Los Angeles. The UM began modestly—Noah and Karon worked to join three storefronts in the city’s Arlington Heights neighborhood. Davis’s dream was to exhibit “museum-quality” art in a working-class black and Latino neighborhood. In the early days of The UM, Davis was unable to secure museum loans, so he organized exhibitions of his work alongside that of his friends and family, and word of mouth spread about Davis’s unique curatorial gestures.

In 2014 Davis began organizing exhibitions using works selected from The Museum of Contemporary Art’s collection as his starting point. In the aftermath of Davis’s passing, the team of family and friends he gathered continued his work at The UM, transforming it into one of the liveliest and most important gathering places in Los Angeles for artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers, and activists.

If you are in Los Angeles, The Underground Museum is definitely worth a visit, and if you cannot make it to this exhibition in NYC- a portion of it moves there this March.

Also, Kahlil Joseph’s “BLKNWS” will be shown the Brooklyn Academy of Music in NYC from 3/23-6/21/20.

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.

Dec 192019
 

For Peter Halley’s Heterotopia II, at Greene Naftali’s ground floor gallery in Chelsea, he has created a delightful, brightly colored maze-like installation.

From the press release

In Des Espaces Autres (1984), Michel Foucault defines heterotopia in opposition to utopia. While utopias are unrealized representations of a perfected society, heterotopias exist within all societies as realms differentiated from everyday life. Examples include ceremonial, sacred, and institutional spaces such as chapels, cemeteries, libraries, and prisons. They are spaces designated for special activities – creating their own sense of time and operating according to their own standards.

Through a range of media – painting, architectural installation, digital prints, and critical writing – Peter Halley’s work has illuminated the structures of social space and communication that shape our experience of contemporary life. For his second solo exhibition at Greene Naftali, Halley presents Heterotopia II, the latest in a series of large-scale installations exploring the relationship between painting and architectural space. Halley has created a multi-colored, labyrinthine structure in the ground floor gallery housing eight new shaped-canvas paintings, titled after imaginary planets from Isaac Asimov’s science-fictional universe.

The installation is enclosed by tall neon yellow walls coated in Roll-a-Tex, with only a narrow slot in the front wall offering the viewer a preemptive glimpse inside. The interior space is organized around a glowing yellow core – an inaccessible inner sanctum whose light is solely visible through three distinctive apertures. Around the core are arrayed eight interconnected rooms rendered in vivid colors, each defined by architectural elements, including staircases, keyhole windows, beams, and columns. The arrangement of these elements playfully nods to motifs in the work of architects Peter Eisenmann, Hans Hollein, Luis Barragán, and Louis Kahn, as well as to Halley’s own oeuvre. Halley’s installation, with its candy colored surfaces, is a postmodern reverie on neoplasticism and modernist geometry, founded on a tension between rationalist geometry and lyrical color.

Visitors circulating through the maze-like installation encounter Halley’s shaped-canvas paintings one-by-one, as the interactions between two-dimensional image and three-dimensional architecture unfolds. Composed of multiple interlocking prisons and cells, the paintings create ambiguous figure-ground relationships, while echoing the geometric plan of their three-dimensional setting.

This exhibition closes 12/20/19.

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.

Dec 122019
 

Petzel Gallery is currently showing Walead Beshty’s solo show “Abstract of A Partial Disassembling of an Invention Without a Future: Helter-Skelter and Random Notes in Which the Pulleys and Cogwheels Are Lying Around at Random All Over the Workbench”. The sheer volume of work covering the walls is overwhelming and impressive in its assembly.

From the press release-

The work A Partial Disassembling of an Invention Without a Future: Helter-Skelter and Random Notes in Which the Pulleys and Cogwheels Are Lying Around at Random All Over the Workbench, was originally commissioned by the Barbican Centre, London. The London-born, Los Angeles-based artist first exhibited the work there in 2014, covering the 273 ft long Curve gallery from floor to ceiling in cyanotype prints. The prints were produced over the duration of a year (October 9, 2013–October 8, 2014) and are chronologically installed in proportion to the exhibition space. For its New York première at Petzel, approximately 5,120 cyanotypes (38% of the total 15,616 sq. ft work) will be presented.

In A Partial Disassembling of an Invention … , each cyanotype (a 19th Century photographic process using ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferro-cyanide) was produced by placing tools and other objects used in the production process of the studio on cellulose waste material generated by that same process (such as wood, cardboard, or paper) that was coated with UV-sensitive cyanotype material. After being exposed to sunlight and washed in water, the object’s silhouette appears in reverse against a cyan-blue background.

In using everyday objects, such as receipts, prescriptions, invoices, financial statements, legal documents, letters, gallery invitations, etc. from the working life of the studio, an inherent transparency is embedded in the work, demystifying the artwork and exposing its process of coming to be. Representative of the lives of those who made it, the cyanotypes expose both aspects of identity and circumstance, situating the work within political, social, and economic exchange without being representational or depictive in the conventional sense. While both the Barbican and Petzel iterations deal with debris, this new display has a more overtly American immediacy to it. Considering the resurgent discourse on the politics of representation, there is a new urgency to exhibiting the work for the questions it evokes about the modes and uses of representation, such as how art can accurately display real world conditions of labor, production and power, and whether a truly accurate and transparent form of representation is possible.

Beshty will also show Prologue to A Partial Disassembling of an Invention Without a Future: Helter-Skelter and Random Notes in Which the Pulleys and Cogwheels Are Lying Around at Random All Over the Workbench, which are the cyanotypes that were produced in anticipation of the Barbican work from August 1, 2013–October 8, 2013, along with seven volumes of the 59-volume archive of the work. The books—in their Prologue and Opus volumes—comprise bound pages printed recto and verso of the entire work reproduced at 1:2 scale. The volumes create both an archival record of Beshty’s workspace as well as an index of all the tools and artefacts used for the work’s own making.

The title of the project is a reference to Hollis Frampton’s hypothetical lecture he muses about in a talk delivered at the Whitney Museum of American Art, but never actually gives. The title of this phantom lecture alludes to the origins of the medium, and its inevitable obsolescence. It also calls forward the question of the role objects play when they have ceased being useful. Wrenched by time from their intended use, the objects become purely aesthetic, becoming the focus of contemplation in both historical and poetic terms.

This exhibition closes 12/14/19.

Dec 062019
 

Murals of La Jolla is a project started in 2010 by The Athenaeum and the La Jolla Community Foundation. It commissions artists to create work to be displayed on buildings around La Jolla. The works are on view for a minimum of two years (a map of current work here)

The above work is Favorite Color (2010) by Roy McMakin.

From the Murals of La Jolla website regarding this work-

…“The idea was very simple. I have always, since a child, been intrigued at both my own emotions around color preference, and also others. It has been important, and part of my identity to know what my favorite color is. I often recall times that I discussed color with my friends as a child and the talk always centered around preference. And I have found as an adult that most people still enjoy sharing what their favorite color is.”

“My proposal for the wall in La Jolla was to create a visual document of what a somewhat arbitrary group of people, of various ages, etc., choose as their favorite color. I began the process by asking people their favorite color, and then I presented them with a selection of 4 to 6 colors, of which they choose the one that was closest to the color they liked best. For example, if someone said “blue”, then I showed them blue swatches and they chose one. One square was painted that color. I like the idea that this takes place at a certain time, and that the ultimate form of the mural was dictated by the number of folks that showed up.”

This mural is located at 7596 Eads Avenue.

 

Nov 232019
 

The Second Home Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Spanish architects Lucia Cano and Jose Selgas of SelgasCano, is a bright and colorful addition to the park that houses the La Brea Tarpits and LACMA.

The installation will be up and accessible to the public until 11/24/19 (although tickets are available for Monday 11/25 and Friday 11/29). Get free tickets here.