Jan 192024
 

Pictured above is Drossos P. Skyllas‘ painting, Wisconsin Ice Cave, 1950, part of LACMA’s 2018 exhibition, Outliers and American Vanguard Art.

About the artist from the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. where the exhibition was also on view-

Drossos Skyllas achieved the exquisitely detailed, jewel-like surfaces of his paintings with tiny brushes he fashioned himself. He applied miniscule dabs of luminous oil paint in a pointillist manner, which gave his subjects a petrified yet shimmering quality. His refined technique and adherence to the academic genres of still life, landscape, portraiture, and mythological scenes demonstrate his knowledge of art history. And inspired by the old masters, he perfected the difficult depiction of reflective surfaces, including gems, mirrors, water, and ice. At the same time, his uniform clarity of detail, imposed symmetry, and sense of frozen time create a dreamlike mysteriousness reminiscent of magic realism. In addition to high art sources, Skyllas likely drew upon commercial illustration and photography. Untitled (Roses) resembles both traditional floral still lifes and midcentury advertisements for jewelry and flowers. Wisconsin Ice Cave relates as much to northern Renaissance landscape painting as to mass-produced picture postcards.

Born in Greece, Skyllas worked in his father’s tobacco business before emigrating to the US shortly after World War II. He settled in Chicago and devoted himself to becoming a professional artist, though he had no formal artistic training. Supported financially by his wife, Skyllas produced thirty-eight paintings from the late 1940s until his death in 1973. Some of these he submitted to the annual juried exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago and Vicinity, which featured his work in 1955, 1967, 1969, and 1973. He also sought commissions to paint portraits, but with asking prices as high as $30,000, he never found any patrons.

Skyllas’s work was discovered after his death by Chicago gallerist Phyllis Kind, who added him to her roster of self-taught artists in 1974. He was likely known to artists Jim Nutt and Gladys Nilsson before this, as they had exhibited alongside him in the 1967 Chicago and Vicinity exhibition and are enthusiastic collectors of self-taught artists (Wisconsin Ice Cave is in their collection). The meticulous finish of Skyllas’s paintings, which simultaneously evokes advertising art and Renaissance illusionism, appealed to Nutt, Nilsson, and fellow Chicago imagist Roger Brown, whose art collection also included the self-taught Greek master.

 

Jun 232023
 


Closing tomorrow, 6/24, is Cross Communication, an exhibition of Chris Burden’s relics, films, video works, and other materials that document his early performances at Gagosian’s 75th and Park location in NYC.

Walking into the gallery and hearing one of his TV commercials in which he reads off the names of famous artists followed by his own name (Chris Burden Promo (1976)), is a humorous introduction to Burden’s often audacious work. Poem for LA from 1975, which follows with the messages- “SCIENCE HAS FAILED”, “HEAT IS LIFE” and “TIME KILLS” still resonates today.

Check out the video below to see the commercials and hear Burden discuss the work.

Other videos included have him crawling across glass; lying between two sheets of glass that are on set on fire (Icarus); and one of his most infamous- being shot in the arm (Shoot, 1971). The less outrageous works are great too, including Disappearing (1971), pictured above.

For more on the artist, the excellent documentary Burden, by Richard Dewey and Timothy Marrinan, follows his career from these earlier works to the large scale sculptures like Metropolis II and Urban Light that came later. Both of these installations are on view in Los Angeles at LACMA.

Jul 302020
 

Happy Birthday to Betye Saar who turned 94 today! This work Still Ticking, (2005), was part of LACMA’s exhibition Betye Saar: Call and Response which opened at the museum in September of 2019.

From the wall description of the work-

Made shortly before Saar’s seventy-eighth birthday, the assemblage includes years and astrological glyphs on the inner left side that correlate to various important dates in her life. The work’s title wittily refers both to the timepieces in the sculpture- which, of course, are not ticking; indeed they are either frozen in time or missing their hands- and to the artist herself, who is alive and well, still ticking, now at age ninety-three.

Jul 062020
 

Today, July 6th, is the four year anniversary of the fatal shooting of Philando Castile by a police officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota. Castile was shot five times while his girlfriend and her four year old daughter were in the car.

Mark Bradford’s 150 Portrait Tone, 2017, currently at LACMA, is a devastating large scale work that uses excerpts from Philando Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds’s dialogue from the video she live streamed on Facebook from the incident.

From LACMA’s wall description of the work-

Bradford notes that he was moved by the multiple subjects Reynolds simultaneously addressed and the different spaces they occupied: her boyfriend, Castile, next to her (“stay with me”); the officer outside the car (“please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this”); God (“Lord, please Jesus, don’t tell me that he’s gone”); as well as the unknown receiver on the other side of her lifestream (“please don’t tell me he just went like that”).

Like many of Bradford’s works, the mural-size composition contains elements of both abstraction and realism. In places, layers of manipulated paint render the text almost illegible. The dark form in the background, however, evokes all-too-real associations with the horrific shooting, such as Castile’s twisted arm and the dark-red bloodstain spread across his white shirt, both visible in the live stream feed.

The title, “150 Portrait Tone”, refers to the name and color code of the pink acrylic used throughout the painting (most conspicuous in a large patch at the work’s bottom edge). Like the now-obsolete “flesh” crayon in the Crayola 64 box (the color was renamed “peach” in 1962), the color “portrait tone” carries inherent assumptions about who, exactly, is being depicted. In the context of Bradford’s painting, the title presents a sobering commentary on power and representation.

May 102020
 

Swiss artist Cuno Amiet’s Mutter und Kind im Garten (Mother and Child in Garden), circa 1903, part of LACMA’s 2014 exhibition Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky.

Jan 042020
 

A Chinese Dream by Wang Jin

First Class by Xu Bing

First Class (detail)

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

From their website-

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

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

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

Dec 062019
 

Closing 12/8/19 at LACMA is Every Living Thing: Animals in Japanese Art. It’s a really fun of exhibition with a good selection of art from different time periods, including Yayoi Kusama’s dog sculptures from Megu-chan (2014), two of which are pictured above.

From LACMA’s website-

Every Living Thing: Animals in Japanese Art celebrates one of the most distinctive and compelling aspects of Japanese art: the depiction of animals. Underpinned by Japan’s unique spiritual heritage of Shintō and Buddhism, the Japanese reverence for nature—and the place of animals within that realm—is expressed in sculpture, painting, lacquer-work, ceramics, metalwork, cloisonné, and woodblock prints.

Lions, dogs, horses, oxen, cats, fish, insects, birds, dragons, phoenixes—animals warm and cold-blooded, real and imaginary—are meticulously and beautifully rendered in myriad works from ancient 6th-century clay sculpture to contemporary art. Arranged in themes such as Zodiac Animals, Animals from Nature, Religion, Myth and Folklore, and Leisure, the exhibition draws heavily from LACMA’s permanent collection and includes masterpieces from Japanese and American public and private collections, some of which are on view for the first time.

 

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.

Nov 212019
 

Julia Jacklin- Pressure to Party

Things to do in Los Angeles this weekend (11/21-11/24/19)-

Thursday

Devon Welsh of Majical Cloudz has a new solo project and is performing at Bootleg Theater with Sorry Girls.  Get there early for a screening of Moses Sumney’s new music video Virile with a behind the scenes Q & A at 6:30pm (free with RSVP).

There are still free tickets available to see LA based educator, writer, theater actor, and documentarian Carolina Rivera Escamilla read her work in conjunction with Shirin Neshat: I Will Greet the Sun Again, for The Broad’s series The Logic of Poetry and Dreams

Union Station is having it’s annual holiday tree lighting (with snow) and the first of this year’s cocoa concert series, starting at 6:30pm

Bloc Party are performing their 2005 album Silent Alarm at the Hollywood Palladium

Music producers Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Young will be performing together at The Midnight Hour at Lodge Room

The Get Up Kids are playing at the Echoplex with Kevin Devine and The Whiffs opening

 

Friday

Curator Jamillah James will be leading a tour of No Wrong Holes: Thirty Years of Nayland Blake followed by a happy hour with light refreshments at ICA LA for their monthly Art Buzz event  (free but register)

Our Girl are playing at the Bootleg Theater with Particle Kid and a DJ set by SadGirl

Moon Duo are playing at Lodge Room with Umberto opening

 

Saturday

Artist Thomas Joshua Cooper, who has exhibitions currently on view at Hauser & Wirth and LACMA, will be in conversation with Michael Govan at Hauser & Wirth at 11:30am (free but register)

Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) is having a cyanotype workshop with educator Marissa Gonzalez Kucheck at 12pm.

The Great LA Walk is your annual chance to walk across Los Angeles county with a group of other energetic walkers. This year’s route runs from Arcadia, through Pasadena and onward to City Hall.

Cultural Traffic Arts Fair is happening at Delicious Pizza, free from 12-8pm

Death Valley Girls and Crocodiles are playing at Lodge Room

Creature Feature Festival II is happening at the Bootleg Theater with performers that include The Blank Tapes, Early Evil, Young Creatures and more

L.A. Drones, Death Hags, and Big Fun are performing at El Cid

 

Saturday and Sunday

Renegade Craft Fair returns to Los Angeles State Historic Park with its free holiday market

 

Sunday

Julia Jacklin is playing at the El Rey Theatre with Christian Lee Hutson

Bootleg Theater is screening a double feature of Louis Malle’s God’s Country, about the farming community in Glencoe, Minnesota in 1979, which was thriving at the time. Forced to abandon the project early, Malle returns in 1985 to follow up, and finds that things have taken a dark turn during the Reagan era. The second film is Lee Grant’s The Willmar 8 a film about “a group of eight women who, in 1981, carried out the longest bank strike in American history to protest gender discrimination at great cost to their reputations, marriages and livelihoods in the 14,000-person town of Willmar, Minnesota- 60 miles north of Glencoe”.

Kanye West is premiering his new opera Nebuchadnezzar at the Hollywood Bowl, directed by performance artist Vanessa Beecroft and feature music from West’s Sunday Service choir.

Nov 142019
 

Tierra Whack- Unemployed

Things to do in Los Angeles this weekend (11/14-11/17-19)-

Thursday

Ronald Rael, the Chair of the Department of Architecture at UC Berkeley, will engage in a presentation and discussion about art making at the US_Mexico border with W|ALLS featured photographer, designer, craftsperson, and founder of Art Made Between Opposite Sides (AMBOS) Tanya Aguiñiga at Annenberg Space for Photography. (free but register)

Artist Vishal Jugdeo will be discussing his work at The Hammer

Maxo Kream is performing at the Echoplex with Q Da Fool and Slayter

The KVB, Numb.er, and Houses of Heaven are playing at The Echo

Filmforum at MOCA (Grand Avenue location) is showing All That You Can’t Leave Behind, a program of films both personal and political featuring new works by Essi, Ja’Tovia Gary, Darol Olu Kae, Rhea Storr, Sara Suarez, and ariella tai. Filmmakers Suarez and Kae will be in-person to discuss their work.

Polo & Pan are performing at The Novo

Twin Peaks, Post Animal, and Ohmme are playing at the Teragram Ballroom

 

Friday

Sylvan Esso are performing WITH at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with Hand Habits opening (also Thursday)

Constitutional Happy Hour returns to The Hammer with Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson discusses impeachment—Article II. (free)

Metro Art is having a free screening of Richard Linklater’s animated film Waking Life

Frankie Cosmos is playing at 1720 with Stephen Steinbrink, Dear Nora, and Lomelda

James Supercave is playing at Civic Center Studios with “surreal dance act” CAPYAC

Hovvdy are playing at Moroccan Lounge with Nick Dorian and Carolyn Says

 

 

Friday and Saturday

Adult Swim Festival 2019 is taking place at Banc of America Stadium in DTLA. On Friday performers include Dethklok, Captain Murphy, Leikeli47, Health, and more. On Saturday Vince Staples, Jamie XX, 2 Chainz, Tierra Whack, clipping., Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, and more will perform, along with a live version of The Eric Andre Show. There will also be screenings, games and attractions, and more.

Spaceland and Other Music are hosting The Get Together 2019 Label Fair and Music Festival at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. On Friday Joe Kay, Marco McKennis, and Full Crate are performing. On Saturday is the Record Label Fair and performances by Anna Wise, William Basinski, and more. In the evening, Lee Fields will be perform backed by El Michels Affair, as well as Bobby Oroza, Brainstory and Holy Hive.

 

Saturday

Artists Gilbert & George will be in conversation with critic Jonathan Griffin at Sprüth Magers (free but RSVP)

GRMLN are playing at The Smell with Foliage

Jidenna is performing at the Belasco Theater

Artists Constance Mallinson and Jeffrey Vallance will be discussing collecting, curating and making art at Edward Cella Art & Architiecture

For the 7th year, Gabba Gallery is having its affordable art show Wishlist and tonight is the opening

Jonathan Bree is playing at Lodge Room with Ryder the Eagle and Nico Turner

Mating Ritual are playing at the Teragram Ballroom with Superet and Low Hum

 

Saturday and Sunday

Bridge-s, is a performance series at The Getty curated by Solange Knowles and features a new performance by Gerard & Kelly, with a special musical score by Solange featuring Cooper-Moore, brought to life by a group of dancers and musicians across Getty’s iconic architecture. The performance piece takes place all day around the center and also includes film screenings and an artist talk with British-Ghanaian philosopher Kodwo Eshun.(free)

Jackalope Indie Artisan Fair returns for two days to Pasadena’s Central Park

 

Sunday

From 12:30- 2:20pm LACMA is offering a free taste of the Japanese Nebuta Festival with a large paper lantern float depicting Japanese folk hero Kintoki by Nebuta Master Hiroo Takenami on display and a series of short performances by taiko drummers, flute and hand cymbal players, and dancers taking place in front of the float.

LAXART is hosting a performance of the in progress, debut play Lives of the Performers, by critic and writer Hilton Als. Free, first come first served. (also on Monday)

The Annual Tree Lighting celebration with performances and fireworks is happening at The Grove

Ghostland Observatory are playing at The Regent Theater with MUNYA

The Ocean Blue are playing at the Echoplex