Apr 052019
 

Currently at Hauser & Wirth’s Los Angeles location is Piero Manzoni. Materials of His Time.

From the press release

Piero Manzoni. Materials of His Time is the first exhibition with the gallery and the first in Los Angeles in over 20 years devoted to the seminal figure of postwar Italian Art and progenitor of Conceptualism. Curated by Rosalia Pasqualino di Marineo, director of the Piero Manzoni Foundation in Milan, this exhibition focuses on Manzoni’s revolutionary approach to unconventional materials through the exploration of what he dubbed ‘Achromes’ – paintings without color. Over 70 ‘Achromes’ will be on view, comprised of such materials as sewn cloth, cotton balls, fiberglass, synthetic and natural fur, straw, cobalt chloride, polystyrene, stones, and more. The exhibition situates Manzoni as a peer of such artists as Lucio Fontana and Yves Klein, whose experiments continue to influence contemporary art-making today. ‘Materials of His Time’ will also present, for the first time, the items on a wish list Manzoni outlined in a 1961 letter to his friend Henk Peeters: a room all in white fur, and another coated in fluorescent paint, totally immersing the visitor in white light.

The “Achromes” are simple but pleasing in their graphic simplicity. Lacking in color, they stand out against the soothing muted colors of the walls.

Heading upstairs, there’s something so delightful about stepping into the white fur room that fulfills Manzoni’s dream. The room itself has a white felt floor and fake fur lines the walls, ceiling and door. It may not be as thrilling now that installation art is more common in museums and galleries, but after reading the artist’s quote, knowing he got his wish makes it much more special. The artist died in 1963 at the young age of 29, too soon to see how much would change in the art world. Also, after seeing an exhibition that focuses on objects with so many different textures, having a chance to touch the furry walls is oddly satisfying.

This exhibition closes 4/7/19.

Apr 042019
 

People, the current sculpture exhibition at Jeffrey Deitch’s Los Angeles gallery in Hollywood, fills the large room with work in a variety of media but all representing human beings in some way.

From the press release-

More than fifty standing, sitting and hanging figurative sculptures will fill Jeffrey Deitch’s new Los Angeles gallery. The artists in the show span several generations from the 1980s to the present, with an emphasis on emerging talent.

All of the works in the exhibition reflect a contemporary approach to sculpture inspired by the innovations of Dada, Surrealism, Assemblage and by the influence of non- or meta- art sources like department store mannequins.

Only one work in the show is carved or modeled in the traditional way. Some are made from body casts, others are constructed with found objects and only a few use conventional sculptural materials like bronze.

The works in the exhibition reflect the diversity of the artists who created them and the diversity of the people who the sculptures represent. The styles range from hyperrealism to allegory. The subjects range from ordinary individuals to creatures of fantasy. The works explore the uncanny confrontation of the artificial and the real while simultaneously responding to the multiple approaches to human identity in the contemporary world.

One of the sculptures, Totem, by Narcissister even incorporates live women. This adds to the unsettling feeling that some of the other sculptures, like Nobody, by Karon Davis (who founded The Underground Museum with her late husband Noah Davis), might have included real people as well (they don’t).

Karon Davis, “Nobody”, 2019

One of the strongest pieces in the exhibition is David Altmejd’s Pyramid in which a human/dog hybrid figure sits smoking while its back opens to expose insides composed of quartz, a hand, and several ears protrude from its sides. The little details are fascinating. He’s even painted one of the figure’s fingers purple, perhaps a reference to Human, the Ibizan hound with one purple leg that was included in Pierre Huyghe’s exhibition at LACMA.

People was inspired by Mike Kelley’s exhibition and book project The Uncanny, from 1993, and that’s definitely an accurate description of how it feels to wander around in this particular room of sculptures.

This exhibition closes 4/6/19.

 

 

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
 

Noboru Tsubaki “Fresh Gasoline”, 1989

Yukinori Yanagi “Ground Transposition”, 1987/2019 (balloons) and Shinro Ohtake “Retina (Night Fever 1)”, 1990 (left on wall) and “Retina (DNA Shadow III)” (right on wall), 1990

Shinro Ohtake “Retina (DNA Shadow III)”, 1990

 

Blum & Poe’s current exhibition Parergon: Japanese Art of the 1980s and 1990s, is a selected survey exhibition of Japanese art of the 1980s and ‘90s, curated by Mika Yoshitake. It includes the work of over twenty-five visual artists in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, video, and photography.

From the press release

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. In the aftermath of the conceptual reconsideration of the object and relationality spearheaded by Mono-ha in the 1970s, this era opened up new critical engagements with language and medium where artists explored expansions in installation, performance, and experimental multi-genre practices.

When the U.S. and Europe were witnessing a return to Expressionism alongside a postmodern aesthetic of simulacra and deconstruction characterized by the Pictures generation, this zeitgeist of cultural capitalism was instead manifest under Japan’s unique social and geo-political conditions resulting from the rise and burst of the bubble economy. Artists began to explore subversive artistic languages and integrate underground subcultures into their practice using a variety of media, ranging from experimentations in electro-acoustic music, geopolitical and conceptual photography, and appropriations of advertisement culture. Others addressed the internalization of historical avant-garde and modernist aesthetics that were filtered through a new poetics of form, space, and language.

In the post-1989 Hirohito era, politics of gender, nuclear crisis, and critique of nationalism are especially poignant among artists from the Kansai region. This period also witnesses the rise of art collectives in the mid-90s and their darkly humorous performances and conceptual practices that reevaluated the history of Japan’s postwar avant-garde. These events reflect on a subculture generated out of a profoundly unique “infantile capitalism,” anticipating the explosive rise of the Neo-Pop generation.

This exhibition is presented on the occasion of Blum & Poe’s 25-year anniversary. Parergon commemorates a special facet of the gallery’s history rooted in this very timeframe in Japan—with Tim Blum’s early years as an art dealer and curator spent in Tokyo in the early ‘90s—and charts a bridge between the Japanese art historical territories the gallery has long championed. Parergon pursues the creative significance of the years between the milestones of Mono-ha and the Neo-Pop generation now synonymous with Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara.

This exhibition closes 3/23/19. Part II will open 4/6/19.

 

Mar 062019
 

Currently at The Rendon Gallery, at a pop-up space on Palmetto Street, is Los Angeles based South African artist Ralph Ziman’s exhibition, The Casspir Project. The Casspir is a massive military vehicle that was used to terrorize the civilian population in South Africa during the apartheid-era. Sadly, they are still used by police forces in certain parts of the world, including in the United States. Ziman, with a team of artists from Zimbabwe and the Mpumalanga province of South Africa, have covered the Casspir in brightly colored beads in traditional patterns, making something beautiful out of what was once a symbol of horror.

Although the vehicle is the centerpiece, the exhibition also focuses on the arms trade and includes photos, a video, and additional beaded work. From the press release-

For this iteration of The Casspir Project, Ziman has designed the massive gallery space with a “macro and micro” experience in mind. Each room within the gallery space brings context to the next, informing the project as whole. The exhibition starts with an installation of brightly colored AK-47s leading into a room with large photographs taken in Soweto. For the photos, Ziman recreated scenes from newspapers during the apartheid, incorporating many of the elements found within the exhibition such as the beaded guns and SPOEK 1. A screening room shows a 20 minute documentary by Ziman which tells the history of the Casspir, from its design and conception to people’s personal experiences with it in the ‘70s and ‘80s. It chronicles Ziman’s reclaiming of the Casspir, detailing how he transformed and Africanized it. The exhibition culminates with the dramatic presentation of SPOEK 1, lit only by a spotlight in a dark room.

Opening a dialogue between those who remember and those too young to know, The Casspir Project is a profound attempt to reconcile history. Ziman has reclaimed the savagely violent brute—embellished and bedazzled, the Casspir has been made less threatening, its power and authority subverted.

This exhibition has been extended through 3/10/19 and this weekend Ziman will be live painting at the gallery with artist Keya Tama.

 

 

Mar 022019
 

What are the webs within our own lives? How are we connected to others? What is seen and not seen in our world? How do we function within our environment? What is created without our even noticing?

Tomás Saraceno’s current exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in Hollywood, his first ever solo exhibition in Los Angeles, explores these ideas through the intersection of science and art. In one room, balloons drag pens to create drawings from the air and movements of those who wander through. Spider webs (displayed without the spiders) play an important part in weaving together the themes of the exhibition. Made by different species of spider and dyed with carbon ink, they are in frames against the wall. Presented in another part of the gallery, in a dark room, they are spot lit creating beautiful three dimensional sculptures. In another room, in full darkness, they are lit by a slowly moving laser which highlights in red various sections of the webs as others fade away.

In the front room of the gallery is a sculpture that continues the artist’s Cloud Cities body of work (pictured below). Cloud Cities was shown on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2012.

 

From the press release-

… Conceived and inspired by the geometries of soap bubbles, the cluster-like artworks are composed of a number of interconnected modules, some with web-like structures set within them, which form geometric constellations inspired by the Weaire-Phelan structure. The Cloud Cities project is intimately tied to and embodied in the Aerocene Foundation, a community that proposes an epoch free from fossil fuel emissions, which challenges socio-political atmospheres by trespassing and weaving new, much needed, aerographies.

Cloud Cities are fictional urban and socioscapes in such imagined post-Anthropocenic future. These sculptural assemblages whose interplay between being tethered to the Earth whilst inviting our gaze to the sky, are devoted to reimagining life in tune and in collaboration with the atmosphere. Indeed, with 102,465 planes and about 8.3 million people traversing the atmosphere every day, swarms of particulate matter crossing borders and billions of pounds of carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuel aerial transportation, there is an entire metropolis up in the air already, coming with a huge cost and carbon print. The elemental imaginaries of Cloud Cities and Aerocene epoch call to open up the boundaries of the Earth toward a new interplanetary ecology of practice. We can reconnect with elemental sources of energy and form a new set of values that would overcome the extractive economies of the fossil fuel regime – a new stratigraphy of the future.

This exhibition closes 3/2/19.

 

 

Mar 022019
 

Derek Fordjour, Two Party System, 2019

 

JRRNNYS, Derek Fordjour’s solo exhibition at Night Gallery, includes new paintings and sculptures that “advance explorations of earlier works, returning to the subjects of crowds and athletic competitions to illustrate the entrenchment of power relations, capital flows, and racial inequality within the economic and social systems of the United States”. The paintings are made of multiple layers of painted cardboard and newspaper that are then scored and sections are removed.

This interview with the artist from artnet goes into more detail on his fascinating process and the reasons behind it.

Signing Day, 2019

Signing Day detail

 

The centerpiece of the exhibition is the installation STOCKROOM Ezekiel.

From the press release

…The work takes its name from the 1884 letters of Ezekiel Archey, an 25-year-old unjustly held as a prisoner sent to labor at the Pratt Coal Mines in Birmingham. Archey’s letters, sent to the Alabama inspector of prisons, are among the most prominent primary-source documentation of the ravages of the convict leasing system, acknowledging the stark preponderance of black prisoners and the gruesome treatment of the laborers by their supervisors. Fordjour’s installation responds to Archey’s letters by creating a walled-in structure comprised of over 1,000 individually constructed compartments – cells, as the artist calls them – painstakingly organized with a variety of found and handmade objects, though by a logic that is never explicated to the viewer. Lights in individual cells blink on and off variously, while small speakers let forth bursts of music by the dictates of a rigid but similarly inscrutable pattern, luring the viewer in the eye-popping manner of the carnival game or game board. The intermittent sounds of music range from the early field recordings of 20th century ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax to 80s- and 90s-era drug dealer anthems to modern day Trap music, a largely Southern genre of hip-hop inspired by the illegal drug trade. The viewer has entered a gamelike arena whose rules remain obscure. With time, the objects that populate the shelves come into focus. Some cells contain familiar items – balls extracted from various sporting contests, the lottery and billiards, cameras, hood ornaments from luxury sports cars, decommissioned prison uniforms, and hundreds of hand blown glass balloons, among others. Others are closed off with metal grating, while still more are lined with the ubiquitous fabrics of luxury designers, invoking the aspirational quests of poverty-stricken urban communities. Finally, many cells contain small busts of the same expressionless figure, molded from resin, copper, metal, plaster, dirt, and salt – materials which stand in for the most prominent products from the era of convict leasing, including the coal mines and steel plants of of Alabama and the molasses distilleries of Florida. Taken individually, the contents of these cells suggest luxury and labor, surveillance and displacement, strategy and competition; as a whole, the work suggests the laws of chance taking place within the confines of a framework that is as unknowable as it is oppressive. From the era of Pig Laws to our current three-strikes mandatory sentencing, educational lotteries to modern day sporting empires, Fordjour’s installation points to the tragic persistence of unjust structures that define American life, employing contemporary commodities while invoking history. At once mournful and flickering with possibility, the installation conjures notions of personal loss and gain within the macro-scale context of the inscrutable systems that have determined the fates of black and brown people through the nation’s history.

Derek Fordjour, STOCKROOM Ezekiel, 2019 image via Night Gallery

This exhibition closes 3/2/19.

If you are in NYC you can see one of Fordjour’s new works, Half Mast, as a public art installation for the Whitney Museum. The large vinyl reproduction of his painting can be seen at the intersection of Gansevoort and Washington Streets, directly across from the Whitney and the High Line.

Derek Fordjour, Half Mast. Image via Whitney Museum

Mar 012019
 

Matvey Levenstein, LY, 2018

Currently at Kasmin Gallery are Matvey Levenstein’s paintings depicting scenes from his life in North Fork, Long Island. There’s a quiet, peaceful quality to the works, which begin with snapshots before they are turned into paintings. This exhibition closes Saturday 3/2/19.

Across the street at another of Kasmin Gallery’s Chelsea locations, and worth a visit, is an exhibition of some of Andy Warhol’s polaroid portraits.

Matvey Levenstein, Pink Moon, 2018

Susan Inglett Gallery is showing Slim… you don’t got the juice, an exhibition of work by Wilmer Wilson IV. His work with staples may seem familiar from its inclusion in the New Museum’s 2018 Triennial: Songs for Sabotage.

From the press release-

Slim… you don’t got the juice presents multidisciplinary departures from familiar modes of figurative representation, as they have evolved in the realm of photographic discourse. Wilmer Wilson IV has developed strategies of redaction and annotation in his work that begin to destabilize the norms of making and viewing portraiture through visual, material, and technical manipulation. An exploration into the complex renderings of individual subject-hood versus object-hood in portraiture, the artist has conceived of a stapled-surface-as-viewing-device that mediates image with material. The device is manifest in a series of staple works that almost fully shroud the photographic subjects beneath dense fields of metal fasteners. The austere, randomized application of the staples onto the surface of each portrait results in a resistance of visual penetration from many angles, complicating access to the underlying figures and deconstructing the voyeuristic inclinations of the viewer.

This exhibition closes 3/16/19.

Wilmer Wilson IV, Host, 2018

 

At Lehmann Maupin’s 24th Street location is McArthur Binion, Hand:Work, an exhibition of the artist’s grid paintings created with oil paint stick and paper on board. The patterns created in the work are overwhelming at first glance but then when seen up close, the personal details add a new dimension to the paintings.

From the press release

…For Binion, his personal documents represent the sum total of one’s social life: relationships, citizenship, vocation, and family life. The revealing and obscuring of these aspects of his life also addresses the larger sociopolitical reality of African-American identity—often obscured or erased from common knowledge, yet always present in tandem with major movements in American culture. In his newest Hand:Work paintings, Binion takes an introspective approach that is more closely aligned with the artist’s own self-perception—effectively, his first self-portraits. Using copies of a photo of the home where he was born, along with a photograph of his hand as the ground layer of the paintings, Binion pares down his identity to its most essential elements. These images are tiled in repeated succession, layered under his repetitious line work in oil stick. These gestures themselves relate to memories Binion has of his early childhood farm life, a disciplined approach to the cyclical, sustained effort he maintains in his work today. Through the insertion of his hand, literally in the photographs, and figuratively in his intricate, overlapping mark-making, the artist relates to his earliest introduction to artistry in his mother’s quilting, a tradition he modified and carried into his practice.

This exhibition closes 3/2/19.

McArthur Binion at Lehmann Maupin

McArthur Binion at Lehmann Maupin, detail of above painting

Robert Mann Gallery is showing the newly discovered work of photographer Ed Sievers. The exhibition of black and white photos also includes his later work from the 1970s in Venice Beach. The gallery also has an exhibition of Michael Kenna’s series of black and white female nudes made in Japan (not shown). Both shows close 3/2/19.

Ed Sievers, Untitled (woman in the shadows), c. 1960s, courtesy of the artist, image via Robert Mann Gallery

Damn! The Defiant, a group show curated by Damon Brandt and Andrew Freiser at Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, brings together “images of rebellion and dissent in contemporary portraiture” and includes a wide variety of work in different mediums from an incredible selection of artists that includes Mary Ellen Mark, Gordon Parks, Dana Schutz, Bruce Davidson, Whitfield Lovell and many more. It’s a show that’s very appropriate for a time period that is going to require more and more defiance.

From the press release-

Nothing creates projected personal territory more than the emotional push back generated from the recalcitrant expression of a defiant subject. Yet ironically, it is the very nature of this engagement that makes it difficult for the viewer to quickly detach or withdraw from what in fact amounts to an extended glare or moment of social tension. In a time of undeniable anxiety, finding both the common and contrasting ground in the portrayal of defiance speaks directly to the angst and pre-occupation for self-determination that has been and continues to be a pervasive human concern.

This exhibition closes 3/2/19.

 

Installation view of Damn! The Defiant, image via Fredericks & Freiser

 

Feb 252019
 

 

Currently outside of LACMA’s Ahmanson Building is one of artist Sam Durant’s “electric signs”. It takes its text from a photo taken at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.

Feb 232019
 

Artist Pierre Daquin’s tapestry “La Vue” courtesy of Galerie Chevalier as part of The 13th Floor project

Several art fairs took over Los Angeles last weekend, two of which used hotels to create temporary galleries and installations.

At the The Hollywood Roosevelt was the first edition of Felix, a free art fair co-founded by Dean Valentine along with brothers Al Morán and Mills Morán (of LA gallery Morán Morán). Galleries took over rooms along the pool, on the 11th floor, and the penthouse.  Starting at the penthouse was The 13th Floor (pictured above), a collection of work by French artists curated by writer Andrew Berardini and presented by The French Committee of Art Galleries and the Cultural Services of the French embassy.

Kenny Schachter had some fun pieces in his room on the 11th Floor including Ilona Rich’s sculptures, one of which was in the bathroom shower (pictured above), and a framed collection of artist Chris Burden’s cancelled checks.

Bodega gallery, from New York’s Lower East Side, had a selection of interesting work including paintings by Alexandra Noel.

Alexandra Noel, “And then the air was filled with 10,000 things (or when a minor piece of wood becomes a missile)”

Grice Bench’s selections included a collection of lovely watercolors by Roger White and a painting placed above the bed by Lara Schnitger.

Work by Lara Schnitger and Roger White

On the ground floor Marc Selwyn Fine Art presented Jennifer Aniston’s Used Book Sale, artist Kristen Morgin’s incredibly realistic ceramic replicas of books she imagines might make up the actress’ collection (the VHS tape is real).

Kristen Morgin’s ceramic books

At a hotel in a completely different part of town was the stARTup Art Fair, taking place at The Kinney in Venice. Here, instead of galleries representing the artists, it’s the artists that set up their rooms and sell their art.  It made for a great experience as the artists were all very friendly and eager to discuss their work. Below are a few highlights from the fair.

Lisa Kairos and Melissa Mohammadi’s work

“Leaf Insects Turn Into Butterflies” by Melissa Mohammadi

San Francisco artists Lisa Kairos and Melissa Mohammadi’s room was filled with really beautiful work. Kairos makes dreamy multilayered paintings based on natural landscapes. She then cuts patterns into the images which adds yet another dimension to the paintings. Mohammadi’s work incorporates botanical and marine life into a meditative world where bright pastels stand out among subdued watercolor backgrounds; highly detailed sections mix with the more abstract. The end result for both artists is work you want to spend time looking at.

Work by Annie Galvin of 3 Fish Studios

Work by Eric Rewitzer of 3 Fish Studios

Husband and wife artists Eric Rewitzer and Annie Galvin of 3 Fish Studios in San Francisco had lots of great, affordable prints. They also teach printmaking and collage classes in their studio.

One of Camilla Magrane’s artworks

Artist Camila Magrane had several pieces in her darkened hotel room that use augmented reality technology to make the works animated and three dimensional when looked at through her Virtual Mutations app. The video above illustrates the effect.

Jeff Horton uses his architecture background to create paintings of urban structures (often larger than what’s pictured above), some of which incorporate wax with oil paint for an added layer.

Other artists work not shown but worth checking out- Margaret Hyde makes ethereal still life photographs of natural objects she finds and combines with water, and Kyong Ae Kim showed a variety of impressive work including her animal skulls cut from multiple layers of drafting film and acrylic paintings combined with hand cut elements.