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 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 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 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 232019
 

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is currently showing Laura Krifka: The Game of Patience.

From the press release

The Game of Patience features new figurative paintings by artist Laura Krifka that depict female and male subjects in intimate moments within carefully constructed interiors. Krifka deftly paints her bare-skinned protagonists reading, drawing, daydreaming, watching, and waiting. The peep of a phallus and the highlight of a thigh gap allude to the pleasure of stillness, supplemented by the visual tension meticulously sculpted throughout the domestic spaces. A notable development in Krifka’s content is the genesis of idiosyncratic wallpapers that appear to direct the viewer’s gaze rather than lay flat. These imagined patterns create parallel planes of space, shift color and shape inexplicably, and build psychological tension, functioning like maps for the dream logic of each painting.

At the heart of Krifka’s practice are post-modern and contemporary critiques of canonical Painting. Krifka treats the false dichotomies of subject and object, male and female, observer and observed as comedic jumping off points before bending or breaking the rules and moving on to more nuanced and poetic concerns. Sensually charged in the pinks, purples, pea-greens, and ochers of afternoon reveries, all the protagonists are depicted in vulnerable situations, and Krifka wanders through paintings with surprising detail and care, in search of consent and a deeper understanding of the nature of desire.

This exhibition closes 10/26/19.

 

Oct 232019
 

Currently at Various Small Fires gallery in Los Angeles is Robin F. Williams’ painting exhibition, With Pleasure.

From the press release-

In a series of new paintings that re-imagine the coded narratives of American media, Williams isolates and derails the sexual suggestiveness, pandering strategies, and gendered objectifications utilized in representations of women.

Embodiments of feminine AIs (Siri and Alexa) as nude figures lend Williams’ paintings an air of consciousness, as if aware of the viewer and their own status as female simulacrum. Appropriated from cigarette ad campaigns, paintings such as Alive With Pleasure, Alexa Plays Ball, and Slow Clap subvert their cast of sexually compliant “cool girls” who catch footballs, play around the ankles of men, and smoke seductively. By contrast, Williams’ subjects are stone-faced and defiant, unwilling to embody the latent desires of the viewer.

Williams’ paintings play with chronology both through distinctive painting techniques such as stain painting and airbrushing, and through visual markers recreated and reimagined for the present day. In Slow Clap, a cigarette is replaced by the newer, yet equally ominous vape; a languid repose is substituted for a derisive “slow clap”, the gap between the subject’s hands leaving her gesture permanently unresolved. Eye on the Time depicts a black woman with tightly coiffed 1960s afro who impatiently turns her gaze away from the burning 4th of July sparkler in one hand to the wristwatch on her other arm, counting down the seconds for its patriotic light to extinguish. In Weathervane, a gymnast appropriated from a 1972 Life Magazine cover poses precariously on a rooftop amidst an approaching storm; she gazes out coldly toward the viewer, the purveyor of her ornamental function.

In each painting, Williams’ female figures wait, caught in a perpetual state of questioning, forever burning, and locking eyes as if to challenge their embodied roles: woman as technology, tool, or paragon. These figures, aware of their identity as paintings, must answer the call to remain frozen in time. They refuse, however, to do it with pleasure.

This show closes 10/26/19.