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.

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 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 222019
 

Alex Prager’s exhibition at Lehmann Maupin’s 22nd Street location combines sculpture and still photography with her new film Play The Wind. The photographs in the show recreate scenes from the film, but are not from the film itself.  There are also photos of scenes that could have been from the film, but are not. These allow the viewer to consider alternate narratives to the story they have just seen. The photos also offer an opportunity to see many of the details from the film seen only briefly while watching.

Running for eight minutes, Play the Wind is a journey into a bizarre version of Los Angeles. It’s seen mainly through the window of a car, the way many Los Angeles residents often see it. Places seem familiar, as do many of the large cast of extras who inhabit this world, even if you are not personally familiar with the city.

The cab driver, played by Dimitri Chamblas (dean of the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at CalArts), drives through situations that seem both surreal and possible at the same time, like many things that happen in LA. At one point the cab driver, drives past an accident on the highway and sees a car vertical between two other cars with children in a school bus leaning out of the windows to observe. He passes alongside and moves on. It’s just another moment in a chaotic Los Angeles day. When he locks eyes with a woman played by actress Riley Keough, the film changes to her perspective and it all becomes even more dreamlike.

From the press release

…She anchors her characteristically elaborate fictional scenes within the real Los Angeles, shooting for the first time in many years primarily on location rather than in the studio—a decision that harkens back to when Prager began her career over a decade ago. Though the images contain large constructed set pieces and are populated with carefully cast extras (numbering up to 300), the presence of the Los Angeles streets infuses an element of urban lifeblood that is palpable in the work. Prager’s perception of Los Angeles is one of the artifice and drama befitting Hollywood, with real world chaos that overflows into sci-fi dystopia and post-apocalyptic dread. She toys with these visions of the city disseminated on film, TV, and within the popular imagination, which inform our characterization of a place as much as our own memories.

Technically important to the making of this film was Prager’s collaboration with a team to produce set designs and props that would add a layer of artifice and duplicity to her real-world locations. The interference of these traditional illusionary effects upon the actual Los Angeles streets and locations Prager shot on creates an unnerving sensation, hinting at the reality that might exist just outside of our perception. All of these elements are recast in the series of photographs, which appear in different configurations or on various scales that further destabilize any linear narrative. Drawing on the concept of a distorted memory, Prager has found ways to incorporate objects seen in the photographs and film into the gallery as sculpture, with the intent to further dislodge our understanding of place and time and bring us deeper into her highly constructed world.

Connoisseurs of Prager’s work will likely spot the references to her past series, such as the noir themed Compulsion (2012), or the archetypical ingénue of The Big Valley (2008). This self-referencing becomes yet another layering device, mixing Prager’s career-spanning themes and the greater art historical genres from which they are drawn to create work both entirely new, yet seemingly familiar. Prager’s incorporation of her past into her present work serves as a reminder that while the past may not be returned to, it does remain with us, appearing in surprising, sometimes unsettling ways.

This exhibition closes 10/26/19.

Oct 222019
 

An assortment of beaded and marble creations have taken over Marianne Boesky Gallery in Chelsea, courtesy of The Haas Brothers’ exhibition Madonna.

From the press release-

As is now a signature of The Haas Brothers’ presentations, Madonna will transport viewers into an otherworldly realm, where fantastical animals and odd hybrids reside. Here, colorful sculptures and objects that resemble futuristic creatures will be positioned among seemingly rare tropical plants, and connected into a cohesive environment through undulating platforms. The featured works capture the Brothers’ wide-ranging artistic processes, from intricate beading techniques to monumental stonework to the incorporation of woven elements, and produce an incredibly tactile and evocative experience. The exhibition also highlights the Brothers’ diverse collaborations, including with workshops in California, South Africa, and Portugal, and encapsulates their deep engagement and support for those working in traditionally understood craft.

The Haas Brothers were first introduced to beading in 2015, when they met a group of women artisans selling beadworks in a craft market in Cape Town, South Africa. The Brothers’ were enamored with both the complexity of the technique and the incredible artistry in the women’s work. Seizing the serendipity of the moment, the Brothers’ established a collaboration with the artisans, which led to the development of the Afreaks series, a group of beaded creatures that were shown at the Cooper Hewitt’s Design Triennial in 2016. Since then, The Haas Brothers’ collaboration with the collective of women, who warmly go by The Haas Sisters, has grown and matured.

For Madonna, the collective will support the production of the featured beaded objects, guided by The Haas Brothers’ preparatory drawings and using a selection of Murano glass beads produced in Venice between 1880 and 1980, which The Haas Brothers purchased after the factory became defunct. In addition, Simon Haas has developed a complex system that captures the expansive creative opportunities that beading allows and that provides a guide to learning the craft. This system has been articulated in The Haas Brothers’ Bead Book, which has allowed Simon and Niki to teach the techniques to people local to the area of Lost Hills in Central California, establishing a workshop that offers work and pay in an area that lacks employment options. As part of their work with different communities and artisans, The Haas Brothers establish fair pay systems that include both economic support for the creation of works as well as in some instances profit sharing from sales.

“Part of the vision for our practice, and what we see as essential to the creation of art, is the establishment of communities. We are constantly asking how we can engage with others to achieve something new; something beautiful; something that excites or brings joy—that is really the importance and value of art and artmaking,” said The Haas Brothers. “At the same time, we recognize the platform and voice that we have been given, and think it is critical that we use both to uplift and support others, especially women who have traditionally not been recognized for their craftwork and skills. We feel so lucky to have developed this relationship with The Haas Sisters, and to have the opportunity to shed light on their dedication and tremendous work, while also paying a fair and right wage for their contributions.”

The beadwork in the exhibition will be augmented by several sculptures made with Portuguese Pele de Tigre marble. The Brothers first came to stone carving in their youth, learning from their father, artist Berthold Haas, and recently returned to the material, showing several large pieces at Marianne Boesky Gallery’s Aspen location in June 2018. The solid, smooth, and monumental nature of the stone works provides a powerful counterpoint to the more delicate and finely detailed beadworks and highlights the range of The Haas Brother’s practice. Here too, community proves an important element, as The Haas Brothers’ engagement has helped spur the development of stone-carving as an economic engine at the quarry that they use. The anchor figure, the Madonna, within the upcoming exhibition combines the efforts and visions of the various communities with which the Brothers are involved—each lending to an aspect of its creation and making it a true embodiment of their collaborative vision.

This exhibition closes 10/26/19.