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.

Oct 222019
 

Hauser & Wirth is currently showing two painting exhibitions. On the ground floor of their 22nd Street location are Ed Clark’s gorgeous abstract works, some of which are pictured above. The paintings on view are recent, made between 2000 and 2013. Created on the floor using a push broom, there is a high energy in the motion and blend of color in these canvases.

Sadly, Clark passed away on Friday, October 18th at the age of 93. He was an innovative abstract painter who worked for more than 60 years. This is a wonderful opportunity to see his work in person.

On the second floor of the gallery is Amy Sherald’s the heart of the matter… , (pictured below) her inaugural exhibition with the gallery. If her style looks familiar, it may be because she gained a lot of attention with her portrait of Michelle Obama for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

“If you surrendered to the air you could ride it” (2019)

“Precious jewels by the sea” (2019)

From the press release-

Informed by the artist’s reading of key texts that explore tensions between interior and public realms, the heart of the matter… draws its title from the first chapter of bell hooks’ seminal book ‘Salvation,’ and builds on themes of silence and stillness explored in Kevin Quashie’s ‘Sovereignty of Quiet’ and U.S. Poet Laureate Elizabeth Alexander’s ‘Black Interior.’ In her new paintings, Sherald considers how these relate to the conceptualization of blackness as it is represented publicly, questioning representation of black identity, which often negates the complex reality of an interior life. She envisions black American identity beyond the conceits to which it has largely been restricted, attempting to restore a broader, fuller picture of humanity.

Sherald’s portraits are vivid, large in scale but intimate in effect, capturing both the ordinary likeness and extraordinary essence of her subjects while simultaneously detaching them from everyday reality. Varying in expressiveness, gesture, clothing, and emotional auras, the individuals portrayed maintain a persistent sense of privacy and mystery, requiring viewers to ponder the sitters’ thoughts and dreams. Drawn to each of her subjects instinctively and spontaneously, these ‘Americans doing everyday American things,’ as Sherald has described them, are part of an informal network of people who populate our universe.

Once Sherald commences painting, a transformational moment ensues as the artist begins to view her sitter as an archetype in the history of representation and therefore a vehicle for challenging assumptions. Working from carefully composed and dramatically staged photographs, Sherald situates her subjects in brightly colored, ambiguous environments, then meticulously tweaks expressions and patterns to emphasize a sense of universality and connection. While her subjects are always African-American, Sherald renders their skin-tone exclusively in grisaille – an absence of color that directly challenges perceptions of black identity.

the heart of the matter… debuts two paintings that reach a new, monumental scale for the artist. In these works, Sherald’s monochromatic backgrounds evolve into fully realized scenes that reference quintessential Americana: friends posed at the beach and a man atop a metal construction beam. For the latter, Sherald draws inspiration from Charles C. Ebbet’s iconic photography of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. Sherald often looks to vintage photography for source material, drawn to what she describes as its capacity ‘to narrate a truer history that counters a dominant historical narrative… Photography was the first medium I saw that made what was absent, visible.’ Sherald continues, ‘It gave people who once had no control over the proliferation of their own image the ability to become authors of their narratives.’ By mining and positioning images associated with archetypal or nostalgic American moments – burgeoning industry, sunny beachside locales – Sherald is able to firmly situate and make fully visible black Americans within the canon of American iconography. In this way, her portraits reclaim space and author a narrative for people that official art history omitted, speaking to the human condition and holding up a mirror to American life.

Lastly,  take a trip to the top floor for the group show Personal Private Public, a group exhibition “exploring the idea of the inner life in three main themes: introspection, intimacy, and voyeurism”.  The exhibition includes work by Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Ivy Haldeman, Celia Hempton, Tala Madani, Paul McCarthy, B. Ingrid Olson, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Emily Mae Smith, Mira Schor, and Kohei Yoshiyuki.

All three of these exhibitions close 10/26/19.

 

 

 

Mar 222019
 

 

Currently at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA are Laura Owens mid-career survey and Zoe Leonard: Survey. Two very different exhibitions, each exceptional in their own way.

Laura Owens’ exhibition (pictured above), captures the exuberance of her work throughout her career from the mid-1990s until today. Looking at the colorful paintings, it’s the details you don’t notice at first that give them added depth and life. Textured paint seems to float above the canvas and in some of the work sculptural pieces extend beyond the frame. Traveling from room to room you can see her style grow and change while still keeping elements from the previous work.

Zoe Leonard’s exhibition (seen below) is a thought provoking collection of the artist’s work that varies between the political and the personal and sometimes a blending of the two.

A tree sliced apart and bolted back together is suspended in a room that also contains contact sheets of birds in flight. In another, there’s a line of suitcases, one for every year of the artist’s life. There are photos taken of the sun and a table with stacks of postcards of various views of Niagara Falls.  Black and white photos of animals who have been killed and dismembered confront you in another section of the gallery. Nature, death, and the passing of time are common themes present in Leonard’s work and in our own lives. The effect is meditative.

There are also the more overtly political works. For Tipping Point (pictured below) which she created in 2016, she created a tower of 53 copies of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, one for each year since the book was published. On one wall a typed copy on onionskin of her famous work I want a president, that she wrote when poet Eileen Myles ran for president, hangs between two pieces of glass. (This work was also printed as a large mural for The Highline in New York in 2016)

From MOCA’s website-

New York–based artist Zoe Leonard (b. 1961) is among the most critically acclaimed artists of her generation. Over the past three decades, she has produced work in photography and sculpture that has been celebrated for its lyrical observations of daily life coupled with a rigorous, questioning attention to the politics and conditions of image making and display.

Zoe Leonard: Survey is the first large-scale overview of the artist’s work in an American museum. The exhibition looks across Leonard’s career to highlight her engagement with a range of themes, including gender and sexuality, loss and mourning, migration, displacement, and the urban landscape. More than it focuses on any particular subject, however, Leonard’s work slowly and reflectively calibrates vision and form. Using repetition, subtle changes of perspective, and shifts of scale, Leonard draws viewers into an awareness of the meanings behind otherwise familiar images or objects. A counter-example to the speed and disposability of image culture today, Leonard’s photographs, sculptures, and installations ask the viewer to reengage with how we see.

On Sunday, 3/24, MOCA Senior Curator Bennett Simpson will lead a final walkthrough of both of these exhibitions before they close on Monday 3/25/19.  Admission is free to the museum and this event this weekend.

Mar 212019
 

Emma Webster “Actaeon,” 2018

Emma Webster “Still Life” 2018

For Emma Webster’s current exhibition Arcadia at Diane Rosenstein, she created dioramas based on historic paintings, lit them in a theatrical manner, and then reproduced them as oil paintings . The results are dramatic worlds where a sense of foreboding weighs on the scenes. This is not the fictional Arcadia of pastoral harmony, which the title of the exhibition references, but something more.

From the press release-

The show’s title Arcadia alludes to recycled and reassembled notions of nature and art passed down from antiquity. These fake bucolics, where each tree is as much a reflection of its maker’s hands as it is a symbol, point to the ways humanity manipulates nature, seeing nature only as it relates to mankind itself. As in garden design, man contrives his own aesthetic of “natural” beauty despite the existence of another untamed and unpredictable reality. Considering climate change and deforestation, Emma Webster’s landscape as still life rings a warning.

In the paintings with complex scenes, like Still Life, there is more of a feeling of collage than painting. A figure appears to be falling from the sky at the top of the canvas, day and night blend, and a tiny American flag is seen among the figures of animals and people. There is too much going on for the scene to be peaceful.

In Actaeon, the imagery is simpler. Referencing the myth of the hunter turned to a stag by Artemis and devoured by his own hunting dogs, the painting depicts the stag against the backdrop of a rising or setting sun. The figure is imposing, but at the same time it is also evident that it is a painting of a figure originally made in clay.

Webster’s paintings keep the viewer guessing at the layers of meaning behind the worlds she created, both simple and complex. They are also beautiful, skillful works that reveal more the longer you look at them.

This exhibition closes 3/23/19.

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.