Jan 302020
 

It’s the last week to see Swoon: Cicada at Jeffrey Deitch’s New York location. This exhibition of Caledonia Dance Curry (aka Swoon)’s work includes a sculptural installation, drawings, and a stop motion film.

From the gallery’s website-

Cicada marks a new development in Swoon’s practice. A celebration of rebirth and transformation, the exhibition at 76 Grand Street features recent films, drawings, and installations in which her personal story becomes more central.

Moving away from her street pasted portraits that encouraged the viewer to imagine a background story, Swoon now creates narratives that draw from her personal history as well as classical mythologies. She is also inspired by the handcrafted quality of silent era and 20th-century folkloric films. In her stop-motion animations, fragments of the subconscious coalesce into subliminal images. Open-ended stories unfold and weave recurring motifs such as birth, divination, trauma, and healing.

Swoon’s stop-motion films emphasize the body’s ability to serve as a vessel carrying memories and traditions. A house, a ship, and human figures split and open to liberate a cast of imaginative and mythological creatures trapped inside. The central figure is the “Tarantula Mother,” a half-human, half-spider allegory that evokes traumatic memories from childhood. Swoon’s response to parts of her family history – and the legacy of her parents’ addiction and substance abuse – has recurred throughout her work. These components inflict a strong element of realism to the films, grounding the otherwise- whimsical atmospheres of Cicada.

In Swoon’s work, the sea often constitutes the physical and metaphorical ground for possible encounters. In Cicada, underwater scenarios become a psychological space for introspection and subconscious explorations. Surrounded by new sculptures and her portrait series, Cicada allows viewers to immerse themselves into Swoon’s world, creating a vivid experience embedded in the present moment.

Swoon’s inner circle of friends is the subject of a new series of drawings included in the exhibition. The intimacy of these portraits recalls the romantic and humane spirit of her earlier street pasted works. A tableaux vivant of performers will accompany the exhibition on the opening night, renewing her interest in the counter culture of collectives and carnivals. Whether presented without permission or realized in a traditional gallery or institutional space, Swoon’s work connects with viewers on an emotional level.

The sculptural work is incredibly intricate and its amazing watching it come to life in the film.

This exhibition closes 2/1/20.

 

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.

Jan 172020
 

It’s the last week to see Robert Longo’s eight hyperreal charcoal drawings from his “Destroyer Cycle” at Metro Pictures.

From the press release-

The title (of the exhibition) Fugitive Images refers to the transitory appearance and displacement of impactful media images from across the globe. Longo believes it is morally imperative to secure their permanence.

Longo’s drawing of Jamal Khashoggi is central to the exhibition, which includes works depicting a range of world events from disparate locations. The journalist is shown disappearing into a field of static that recalls a television with poor reception, struggling to maintain the picture. In stark contrast to the evanescent portrait of the murdered journalist is a deeply humane drawing of a mass of migrants on a grueling journey from Central America. The work focuses on the faces and personal effects of the individual men, women, and children, who appear desperate and exhausted. Another drawing that shares the main gallery counters this sympathetic sentiment, showing a choreographed military parade of North Korean soldiers in an exaggerated, highly athletic, mechanized goose step commonly associated with dictatorial regimes and blind obedience.

The reference images that are the basis of Longo’s drawings are generally extensively altered and merged. His drawing of a Jewish cemetery in France crudely vandalized by Neo-Nazis is an exception. Longo maintains the legibility of the tombstones despite the spray-painted swastikas, which fail to obscure the engraved epitaphs of the people buried there––a widow, a religious man who lived a long life, and an honest hardworking man who died on Shabbat.

The exhibition ends with a moment of optimism, determination, and progress. Longo’s drawing of Congress during President Trump’s second State of the Union Address immortalizes the female representatives and lawmakers who chose to wear white in solidarity with the suffragette movement by portraying them as a blurred beacon of light within a sea of darkness.

This exhibition closes 1/18/20.

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.

Oct 032019
 

Jim Krewson’s “tribute to a vanishing subculture”, A Requiem for Paul Lynde, currently in the Viewing Room in the back of Marlborough Gallery’s downtown location, “questions the loss and amnesia of marginal identity in a new age of equality, instant access, Instagram influencers and celebrity, from homosexuality to homogenization in 20 short years.”

The airbrushed wedding dress spins with images that include Lynde himself, as well as Lady Elaine Fairchild from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and the Madame puppet, a Wayland Flowers creation. Flowers’ puppet had her own sitcom in 1982 and also took over Paul Lynde’s center square on Hollywood Squares. Sadly Flowers, an openly gay entertainer, passed away in 1988 at the age of 48 from AIDS related Kaposi’s sarcoma.

If you love of a certain time period of pop culture and Paul Lynde than it will be hard not to embrace this project. But it’s also interesting as a meditation on the state of gay pop culture in the past, the place it is in today, and the question of where it may go in the future now that it is has such a strong, but less subversive place, within mainstream media.

In the main viewing space of Marlborough Gallery is Joe Zucker’s multi-panel 100-Foot-Long-Piece created from 1968 to 1969.

From the press release

This masterwork, exhibited here with a large body of related archival material, comprises a blueprint for Zucker’s long and diverse practice. It plants a flag for the artist’s ongoing inventiveness, irony, and eclecticism.

With the creation of this work, Zucker presents the viewer with a puzzle-like, encyclopedic visual vocabulary, anticipating subsequent pictorial and conceptual approaches such as New Image, Neo-Expressionism, Appropriation, Neo Geo, as well as more recent process- based abstraction, with a self-referential, wry regard for the embedded, associative meaning of his imagery and materials.

100-Foot-Long Piece is a linear aggregate in which gestural abstraction rubs elbows with hard edged grids, silk-screened passages, sculptural reliefs, and a host of other styles and forms. One is mindful of both physical and critical tropes of progressive art history from the physicality of the frieze to a qualitative timeline tracing the contributions of Modernism.

Both shows close 10/5/19.

Jun 062019
 

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

From the press release-

May 032019
 

Peer Amid (Peered Amidst), 2019

Sumday (We Gunna Rest on) Sunday, 2019

Detail of Sumday (We Gunna Rest on) Sunday, 2019

Change Comin’ Round Tha Bend (Right Round, Right Round), 2019

Regen Projects is currently showing But I Woke Jus’ Tha Same, an exhibition of paintings and drawings by artist Christina Quarles. If her work seems familiar, she was also one of the artists featured in Hammer Museum’s Made In L.A. 2018.

From the press release

Quarles’ seductive paintings feature polymorphous figures arranged in contorted positions in space, rendered through expressive and gestural strokes that teeter on the edge of abstraction and representation. Referencing the history and techniques of painting, her work propels forward the limits of her chosen medium, and is informed by her multiply situated identity as a queer woman of mixed race. Dynamic compositions feature bold patterns and decorative motifs such as flowers, latticework, and plaid tablecloths – feminine tropes that reference domestic space. Yet the subjects in Quarles’ paintings simultaneously inhabit interior and exterior space. Perspectival planes both situate and fragment the bodies they bisect, representing the boundaries that demarcate a space from the individual, and expanding the limits and potential for representation.

Similar to her paintings, her drawings deftly combine pictorial elements using economy of line with cross hatching, and other modes of mark making, to create form and depth. Punctuating the picture plane, or outlining a figure, text additions in the form of puns or poetic wordplay often reference pop culture, situating the works in our time.

This show closes 5/9/19.

 

Feb 172019
 

Currently at Shulamit Nazarian gallery is Trenton Doyle Hancock: An Ingénue’s Hues and How to Use Cutty Black Shoes, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles.

From the press release-

The new drawings, paintings, and sculptures in this show expand upon the artist’s saga of The Moundverse, a constructed world that has propelled his artistic practice for the past twenty-five years.

In addition to the narrative tradition of his religious upbringing, Hancock immersed himself in graphic novels, comics, and Greek mythology; at the age of ten, he began creating characters as articulations of his experience as a Black youth in small-town Paris, Texas. In The Moundverse, Hancock has developed an extensive cast: altruistic Mounds, destructive Vegans, and mutated Bringbacks; TorpedoBoy is a tragically flawed hero who serves as the artist’s alter ego; Undom Endgle is a color-wielding goddess who protects young souls, representing the force of the Black women who have affected and supported Hancock over the years. These characters and others explore timeless polarities like good and evil alongside related issues of race, class, identity, politics, and social justice.

Using the fantastical to grapple with the deeply personal has long been at the core of Hancock’s artistic practice. Formally, this is seen in what the artist calls his “rough and tumble” aesthetic: Richly colored tactile surfaces are loaded with objects that range from bottle caps that the artist played with in childhood to bits and pieces of older works that have been rebirthed to create something entirely new. Drawing heavily from the temporal structure of comics, Hancock’s practice seamlessly weaves storylines spanning long periods of time, often within a single artwork. The totality of his practice can be seen as an ever-expanding graphic novel in its own right, articulated through a variety of media.

Laced with personal memoir, Hancock’s Moundverse is a metaphorical space that reflects the everyday world. Several works show TorpedoBoy in mid-stride, clad in football gear, wearing his “cutty black shoes” as he runs from evil-natured Vegans that at times take the aggregated form of a goofy-footed, cloaked member of the Ku Klux Klan (the Paris, Texas, of Hancock’s youth had an active Klan). The malignant force that reaches for this distraught—albeit defiant—central character points to longstanding concerns of systematic racism and oppression.

The exhibition also includes Hancock’s most recurring character, The Mound—a half-plant, half-animal creature that absorbs and processes negative human emotions to bring positive energy to the world. Presented within the exhibition will be two large-scale paintings of Mounds, one standing nearly eight feet tall. In addition, Hancock will present new ink-on-paper works that introduce the first chapter of the artist’s most ambitious drawings to date: Trenton Doyle Hancock Presents The Moundverse. Designed as a traditional graphic novel, this series offers a sequential understanding of the characters and stories that have dominated Hancock’s practice for the past two and a half decades.

An Ingénue’s Hues and How to Use Cutty Black Shoes continues the artist’s exploration of primal forces as they play out in The Moundverse, reflecting our current moment and inviting viewers to consider parallel themes and stories in the world around us today.

This show closes 2/17.

 

Feb 162019
 

Currently at Mitchell-Innes & Nash is Masses & Mainstream, an exhibition of Karl Haendel’s incredibly detailed drawings and his musings on life in current day America. The drawings can be humorous at times, including a comparison of himself to Jared Kushner through a checklist, and a record of his types of sneezes. They are balanced by others, where he expresses his anxiety when it comes to selling art, or a smaller piece that lists “wishful thinking” items that includes healthcare, education, housing, and equity for all.

From the press release-

While Karl Haendel’s newest work covers a wide range of subject matter from a stack of lawnmowers to a portrait of Barbara Walters, the common thread that links these disparate images is a dialogue between memory, both personal and collective, and national identity. Many of the works on view are drawn from overlooked sources in contemporary American life—cultural leftovers the artist combs through and resuscitates in order to represent an alternate picture of American reality. Other works, like the aforementioned stack of lawnmowers, come from the artist’s personal history and experiences—a once-submerged detail from his childhood home that has floated to the surface of recollection—that could also be read, more symbolically, as the paraphernalia of American comfort, excess and, perhaps even, of the endangered middle class.

This exhibition closes 2/16/19.

Feb 112017
 

 

                                                                            Rodeo 10, 2016 (Photo credit Jeff McLane)

                                                                       Hillary Clinton, 2016 (Photo credit Robert Wedemeyer)

Karl Haendel’s solo exhibition BY AND BY at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, is a collection of  highly detailed drawings mixed with earlier work made in 2000, and a new video piece. Included in the earlier work is State Motto Map, a colorful map of the United States, with each state’s motto labeled on it. Washington State’s motto is Alki, or Al-ki, a Native American word meaning bye and bye, and is where the title of this exhibition is drawn from.

From the press release

In this exhibition, Haendel uses the idea of the portrait to explore contemporary definitions of masculinity, power, and public identity. He undertakes the challenging task of drawing a portrait of what it is to be a man, or perhaps what is expected of men, in images that span a broad range of representations from the heroic to the abject, from the depiction of male achievement in the highest ranks of power to a raw and unsympathetic examination of a middle-aged convicted sex offender. An inquiry into what represents masculinity also requires a look at the conventions of gender representation, as masculinity and femininity have so long been defined, particularly in images, as a codependent set of complimentary traits. In “By and By” Haendel both reasserts and undermines these conventions in heroic portraits of teenage girls riding rodeo, reproductions of murals depicting black civil rights leaders, and a monumental portrait of Hillary Clinton. His drawings and his video work against a tradition of portraiture that collapses individuals into ciphers and symbols that read as shorthand for historical legacies and narrative tropes.

This show closes 2/11/17.

 

(images via Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects)