Aug 222019
 

A Universe of One, 2018

A Universe of One, 2018 (detail)

The Dream of Flight, 2019

The Dream of Flight, 2019 (detail)

Currently at Kohn Gallery is New York-based artist María Berrío’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles.

From the press release-

Inspired by her youth in the countryside of Bogotá, Colombia, Berrío’s paintings explore the experience of immigrant identity, intercultural connectivity and the beauty that is found in the diversity of cultures and countries. Berrío depicts her figures with richly detailed and patterned backgrounds of exteriors and interiors. The large, detailed mixed media canvases employ lush, carefully crafted, multilayered Japanese papers and paint, resulting in scenes replete with pensive yet confident figures amid a scene of visual exuberance.

Berrío’s work often places female figures at the center of her intricately woven landscapes. Painted with watercolor details, her figures stare out of the composition determined to confront the viewer from their own surreal surroundings. Her work is evocative of predecessors such as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, both known for their exceptional degree of emotional directness and figural distortion in the place of conventional beauty. Berrío’s works float seamlessly between historical and contemporary artistic styles as they employ a wide visual vernacular ranging from expressionism to graphic, abstract marks.

The variety of media and techniques found in María Berrío’s practice emphasizes the interwoven cultural breadth of the world in which we live, where globalization and injustice touch the lives of everyone. Each character Berrío paints is a symbol of this new reality and the strength that can issue from it. For the artist, a female soldier on the front lines is as brave and mighty as the mother who protects her children from the perils of war. These depictions of women are seen as guiding spirits who are strong, vulnerable, compassionate, courageous and in harmony with Nature and themselves. With these combinations of human traits and emotions, Berrío fortifies her belief that with womanhood every action is considered beautiful and strong, no matter how small or large.

For her current show, A Cloud’s Roots, Berrío focuses especially on place and migration. The individuals are seen in preparation for their travels, in moments of transition, and in various states of uncertainty. Berrío states, “the ambiguity is intentional; although I may have a specific idea in mind when making the work, the actual piece lacks cultural specificity to allow for all symbolic possibilities.” Berrío therefore gravitates towards symbols with global cultural significance, such as braids, birds, and flowers, with the hope that they allow diverse audiences to bring their own understanding to the work.

In her recent work, A Cloud’s Roots (2018), Berrío creates a fictional species of tree based on the dragon’s blood tree, found exclusively on an island off the coast of Yemen. The dragon’s blood tree has adapted perfectly to the island’s desert-like climate and rocky soil, inhospitable to most other plant life. It is a powerful symbol of survival and resilience, able to thrive even in the most unlikely conditions. The figures in the piece are compelled to leave their home but they carry with them the knowledge that they too have the power to put down roots wherever they go.

By reflecting on the beauty of our immigrant nation, Berrío’s new body of work aims to rewrite the narrative of American history to include the stories of people who have long been excluded. It makes space for those who were not born in this country, but come here full of hope and desire to make it their home. As the art canon expands its scope and redefines its boundaries, Berrío imagines a future in which people with diverse perspectives can walk into an institution and see themselves reflected back. Berrío states, “so many immigrants, myself included, are stuck in the inbetween, not quite from here, and no longer from there. I create work that bears witness to this liminal state of being and acknowledges it as an essential part of being American. I wish to convey that which can never be conveyed: the sheer joy of being, of creation, and the undiscoverable mystery of being alive.”

This exhibition closes 8/24/19.

Also, if you are in New York City, she recently created several glass and ceramic mosaics that can be seen in the Fort Hamilton Pkwy Station.

 

Aug 092019
 

 

When trying to talk about the David Hammon’s exhibition at Hauser and Wirth Los Angeles, his first in Los Angeles in 45 years, it’s hard to know where to start. There are no titles or descriptions of any of the works in the show, although there is writing on the walls in certain places. The press release, shown below, is a mass of lines and a dedication to jazz musician Ornette Coleman.

Before you enter either of the two massive galleries housing the exhibition you encounter a courtyard filled with tents, some with “this could be u and u” stenciled on them. Tents also line the corridor under Martin Creed’s neon piece, EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT, with a rack of fancy vintage coats nearby. Once predominantly in Skid Row, Los Angeles’ tent cities have been growing rapidly on street corners and under bridges and highways all over the city, but they often just blend into the background for people walking and driving past. What does a fake tent city in the courtyard of a high end gallery in a newly gentrified neighborhood mean? Is its fake version more affecting than the real one to gallery and restaurant patrons wandering by?

The work in the show feels at times random, clever, humorous, and confounding, but also impressive, thought provoking, and most importantly never dull. There are stacks of art history books sitting on scales. A water filled bowl that contains what once was a snowball Hammons had sold on the street at one point in his career, sits on a wooden shelf. A room with empty glass cubes on wood columns requires you to bend down to see the feet underneath. A book titled A History of Harlem is filled with empty black pages.

In the room pictured below is a three legged chair next to a wall of photos of women sitting in it. Nearby, one of Ornette Coleman’s suits is surrounded by glass.

Another room is filled with paint splattered and damaged fur coats, one facing an antique mirror that is covered. The symbolism feels a bit heavy handed, like the tents, but it works in that there are still several ways to interpret what Hammons might be saying.

Throughout the exhibition paintings are covered in various ways. One in paper, ripped with a bit of the painting visible. Others are partially hidden with tarps, plastic, different fabrics, even an antique rug (shown below). Once again, you can interpret the meaning of this in several ways. With the rug, for example, it’s turned so that only a bit of its design is visible in front of a painting that is not completely visible. These rugs are often associated with old money and sometimes are hung on walls themselves as artwork. Or is it just another assemblage, a visual combination to be taken at face value.

Ultimately the interpretation of all of the work is up to the viewer. There is something freeing in that, not being given answers. Sure, it’s nice to have an explanation of an artist’s intentions sometimes, but you often add your own ideas anyway. Art should make you think, question things, look at the world from a new perspective- this exhibition does all of that and more.

David Hammons at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles closed 8/11/19.

 

 

 

Jun 272019
 

This is the last week to see Kirsten Everberg’s painting exhibition, Life Still, at 1301PE before it closes on 6/29/19.

From the press release

With a new body of work that is based primarily on the genre and history of Dutch Golden Age still life paintings Everberg replaces the traditional elements with plant and animal species simultaneously listed as extinct or endangered, native and non-native. Symbolic not just as demonstrations but for their ability to transcend deceptively “earthy splendors”, these paintings have the capacity to create meaning in the larger moment we find ourselves in while being contained primarily in architectural settings. Everberg’s attention to detail is highlighted by the shifting perspective that is at the same time unstable and precise, and the scale is amplified, elevating the objects and creatures to sometimes imposing monumentality, refusing to be unseen or marginalized.

Using a unique combination of oil and enamel paint, Everberg’s works hover between representation and pure paint. There is always a tension here between the convincing depiction of space and the abstract skeins of color that dance across the canvas. What appears to be the exterior of a house or a dense jungle from far away is reconfigured into glossy pools of paint close-up. Everberg’s mastery of her medium is demonstrated by how deftly she walks this line. Narrative and image; truth and fiction; surface and what lies beneath – are all woven together in her captivating works.

Jun 072019
 

This is the last weekend to see Nick Doyle’s show The Great Escape at Steve Turner in Hollywood.

From the press release

Steve Turner is pleased to present The Great Escape, a solo exhibition by New York-based Nick Doyle, that features sculptural works depicting everyday objects including an oversized bottle of Advil; losing lottery tickets; a pressed dress shirt; a pair of Converse shoes; a miniature Chevron sign; a crushed Newport cigarette box; and two air fresheners. Inspired by the idea of the American road trip, Doyle meticulously assembled these works from a multitude of materials–steel, plywood, brass, paper, sandpaper, canvas, chain, tin foil, light bulbs, electrical wire, concrete, and most importantly, denim. Worn by miners, cowboys, hippies, bikers, punks and bad boys, denim represents westward expansion, rugged individualism and a kind of masculinity that Doyle questions with these works. Doyle also created three small kinetic “Executive Toys” in which he examines the underlying pressure and violence of corporate culture. Finally, there is a three-minute music video that combines puppetry and found footage. The main character is a spork dressed in a suit and tie who is on the road singing a song of lament. It ends with some Saguaro cacti singing Amazing Grace against a desert backdrop.

There is also the group show Power of Ten, in the smaller galleries, which has some great pieces by Maccabee Shelley, Hannah Epstein, Paige Jiyoung Moon and others.

Jun 062019
 

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

From the press release-

Jun 062019
 

Taking up an entire level of the BCAM Building at LACMA, Robert Rauschenberg: The 1/4 Mile or 2 Furlong Piece, is a wonderful testament to the artist’s work and creativity. It is also the first time it has ever been shown in its entirety.

There is so much variety in the materials, subjects, colors, and styles, that as you wander from section to section, it’s easy to notice new things the longer you look. Despite the differences among the different sections, they are bound together by a creative exuberance. LACMA recommends an hour to wander the 1/4 mile of work, but you may want to spend longer.

This exhibition will close on 6/9/19.

May 302019
 

George Condo’s current exhibition at Sprüth Magers, What’s The Point?, is asking the question many of us are asking more and more these days. There’s a controlled chaos to many of these compelling large paintings, much like the world we often find ourselves in.

From the press release

What’s the Point of consistency in art?

Every time I put a brushstroke down on a canvas I ask myself, “What’s the Point?”

What’s the Point of each and every mark going onto the painting? It is important for an artist to ask themselves that question. I am intentional with every move I make as a painter. Even if it appears to be random or an accident, or just a part of a painting that seems less important than another, it is not and cannot ever be. The choice of color has a point. It may be to balance an area of a painting in coordination with another part or to equalize the fine line between perception and reality within the abstract perception of a formal set of guidelines (that never apply to anything other than the singular experience invested in each artwork). There is no guideline to the unknown. It is a path cut out in the wild with a machete looking for a clearing and hoping to arrive at a destination. That, I believe, is the point, in fact: to arrive at your destination. It may be on the other end of an illogical equation which finally makes sense only some number of years later, or finally does not make sense in the end but remains the ultimate ending: the finished painting.

One can see the entire world through this lens, to ask What’s the Point of meaningless intangibles and vacant thoughts, blank space or overpopulated ruminations. The degree to which the mind can play games with itself or the degree to which it can be misled with false, if not real, information. Real information can in fact be false today. We are living in a time when what is presented to us in the news cycle is real—there is no doubt that it is in fact what is being presented. However, What’s the Point in believing in the material content when it could be a truth constructed to make you believe something for the purpose of political manipulation?

What’s the Point of being consistent? In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
—George Condo

Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are pleased to present What’s the Point?, an exhibition of new paintings by George Condo at Sprüth Magers, Los Angeles. One of the most significant artists of the last several decades, Condo creates works that dramatically bridge an array of painterly approaches, moods, and influences from diverse fields such as art history, music, philosophy, and popular culture. The artist’s compositions often begin with the human figure, rendered variously in fluid networks of black lines and interlacing planes of bold color that move seamlessly between controlled precision and unabashed exuberance. His canvases tap into the extremes of human emotion and, at a moment of crisis in American and global politics, a sense of mania and disorder that nonetheless holds out hope for progress and resolution. The paintings in What’s the Point? demonstrate the breadth of Condo’s artistic references, for example, from seventeenth-century portraiture of beggars and thieves found in the work of Dutch and Italian masters, to his own compendium of painterly gestures, which together form a trenchant picture of contemporary human consciousness.

Upstairs the gallery is showing the work of Thea Djordjadze which “combines a variety of artistic, industrial, and unconventional materials to produce works full of contrasts and complexity, which she puts into conversation with the architecture and atmosphere of her exhibition spaces through intimate, considered arrangements.”

Both of these exhibitions close 6/1/19.

May 162019
 

Blum & Poe is currently showing  Parergon: Japanese Art of the 1980s and 1990s Part II, the gallery’s second installment of their survey.

From the press release-

Part II of Parergon expands on the thematic territories explored in Part I, with seminal installations and sculptures from the era and performances by renowned figures of noise, sound, and electro-acoustic music genres. Kenji Yanobe’s Tanking Machine (Rebirth) (2019) is a darkly humorous, interactive, sci-fi sculpture first presented in 1989 that addresses the ever-present reality of nuclear crisis through a retro-futurist narrative. Influential multimedia artist, Kodai Nakahara’s bizarre installations of figurine-like marble stones and brightly, suspended spheres reflect a humorous take on sculpture’s “post-medium” condition.  As an intellectual and artist, Kenjiro Okazaki’s practice engages with theories of perception through interdisciplinary genres spanning architecture, literary theory, painting, reliefs, sculpture, robotics, and dance. Trained in both Japan and the U.S., Yukinori Yanagi’s large-scale and site-specific installations interrogate the politics of institutional borders and boundaries often drawing from semiotic systems of symbolic imagery. Psychedelic ’60s graphic designer Tadanori Yokoo revisits strategies of historical pastiche with his figurative noir paintings that hang alongside his cut-canvas portraits of Dada figures, as well as ceramic depictions of spiritual mediums. Finally, a dedicated Japanese noise archive of photography, journals, and vinyl records from Tokyo’s experimental underground will also be featured on the second floor giving historical context to the live performances.

The exhibition title makes reference to the gallery in Tokyo (Gallery Parergon, 1981-1987) that introduced many artists associated with the New Wave phenomenon, its name attributed to Jacques Derrida’s essay from 1978 which questioned the “framework” of art, influential to artists and critics during the period. Parergon brings together some of the most enigmatic works that were first generated during a rich two-decade period that are pivotal to the way we perceive and understand contemporary Japanese art today.

This exhibition closes 5/18/19.

 

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.

 

Apr 242019
 

TOTAL youth, 2019

TOTAL youth (side view), 2019

Sea Within A Sea, 2019

Sea Within A Sea, 2019 (side view)

“…We are constantly changing and rearranging our point of view. Tomorrow we will remember yesterday. The abstraction is real, more real than nature…” (punctuation mine)- text from Willie Stewart’s video Love Song (2019)

Nostalgia is something we all live with to a greater or lesser extent. The past informs our present and how we perceive things. Why do we see things the way we do? How do we frame the things we see and put them together?

For Willie Stewart’s exhibition In Between Days at Morán Morán gallery, he recreated VHS tapes, album covers, 1970s wood paneling, flowers, paintings of flowers, and more, through layers of detailed painting combined with sculpture. Their titles reference songs from bands like Depeche Mode, Germs, The Horrors, and The Cure and add additional meaning to the content of the work. Within the text of the video in the exhibition. they change their context once again.

The perception of the viewer adds yet another layer when they make their own connections based on personal associations with the objects in the work. In that way, the meaning often becomes less about the work at face value, and more about the meaning you bring to it. For some it may be no more than just an admiration of the beauty and skill of the work. Maybe it won’t resonate to some at all. But for others who remember VHS tapes more vividly or know the bands referenced, the nostalgia adds an extra appreciation.

This exhibition closes 4/27/19.