May 242019
 

Wendy White’s exhibition Racetrack Playa, at Shulamit Nazarian, is a very American show. Her collages of old car ads ,and their often blatant sexism, combined with the use of denim as a sculptural medium, play with the iconography of America’s past to force us to think about America today. How do you reconcile a love of the open road and exploring natural landscapes with the environmental destruction caused by using cars fueled with oil to get there? How much of the past perception of women as objects still informs thinking today? Will America get out of its wood paneled basement to move into a better place- or will its longing for the past continue to slow its progress?

From the press release-

Shulamit Nazarian is pleased to announce representation of New York-based artist Wendy White. The artist’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, Racetrack Playa, will feature new paintings, sculptures, pigment prints, and a site-specific installation.

The exhibition takes its name from a three-mile dry lakebed in Death Valley National Park where sliding rocks or “sailing stones” have inscribed mysterious linear imprints on the landscape. Using this scarred landscape as a metaphor for our current times, the works in Racetrack Playa explore power, entitlement, and imperialism via the aesthetics and evolution of American car culture.

In pieces that function as both homage and critique, White collapses signs of racing and car culture with references to 20th-century American painting. Multiple-canvas works such as Posi Track and Burnout (both 2019) take cues from James Rosenquist’s famous Vietnam War-era painting F-111 (1964–65). In White’s versions, images of mangled engines, worn tire treads, and damaged landscapes suggest a trampling of both philosophical ideals and the natural environment. In addition, the works make reference to Andy Warhol’s Death and Disasters series and Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings.

The exhibition also includes new works from the artist’s ongoing Jeans series. These pieces make use of worn denim, a quintessentially American fabric associated with labor and a sense of rugged individualism. Co-opting the material and its cultural connotations as a substrate for painting, White makes marks with dripped and splattered bleach before garnishing each piece with flat cut-out rainbows, beer bottles, and energy drinks.

A site-specific installation complete with wood paneled walls, carpet, and one of White’s signature denim sofas creates a quasi-automotive shop backdrop for a new suite of unique pigment prints. Carving directly into the paneling, White references the DIY aesthetic of the 70s muscle car era by way of hand-drawn symbols, slogans and logos.

Taken together, the works in Racetrack Playa riff on the visual cues of car culture, the resilient materiality of denim, and the sexiness of commercial graphics to examine a society long drawn to speed and dominance. Reexamining this typically male-dominated arena, White pushes back on advertising’s false promise that perhaps all of your desires are for the taking, if you just smoke the right cigarettes and drive the right car.

This exhibition closes 5/25/19.

Feb 172019
 

Currently at Shulamit Nazarian gallery is Trenton Doyle Hancock: An Ingénue’s Hues and How to Use Cutty Black Shoes, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles.

From the press release-

The new drawings, paintings, and sculptures in this show expand upon the artist’s saga of The Moundverse, a constructed world that has propelled his artistic practice for the past twenty-five years.

In addition to the narrative tradition of his religious upbringing, Hancock immersed himself in graphic novels, comics, and Greek mythology; at the age of ten, he began creating characters as articulations of his experience as a Black youth in small-town Paris, Texas. In The Moundverse, Hancock has developed an extensive cast: altruistic Mounds, destructive Vegans, and mutated Bringbacks; TorpedoBoy is a tragically flawed hero who serves as the artist’s alter ego; Undom Endgle is a color-wielding goddess who protects young souls, representing the force of the Black women who have affected and supported Hancock over the years. These characters and others explore timeless polarities like good and evil alongside related issues of race, class, identity, politics, and social justice.

Using the fantastical to grapple with the deeply personal has long been at the core of Hancock’s artistic practice. Formally, this is seen in what the artist calls his “rough and tumble” aesthetic: Richly colored tactile surfaces are loaded with objects that range from bottle caps that the artist played with in childhood to bits and pieces of older works that have been rebirthed to create something entirely new. Drawing heavily from the temporal structure of comics, Hancock’s practice seamlessly weaves storylines spanning long periods of time, often within a single artwork. The totality of his practice can be seen as an ever-expanding graphic novel in its own right, articulated through a variety of media.

Laced with personal memoir, Hancock’s Moundverse is a metaphorical space that reflects the everyday world. Several works show TorpedoBoy in mid-stride, clad in football gear, wearing his “cutty black shoes” as he runs from evil-natured Vegans that at times take the aggregated form of a goofy-footed, cloaked member of the Ku Klux Klan (the Paris, Texas, of Hancock’s youth had an active Klan). The malignant force that reaches for this distraught—albeit defiant—central character points to longstanding concerns of systematic racism and oppression.

The exhibition also includes Hancock’s most recurring character, The Mound—a half-plant, half-animal creature that absorbs and processes negative human emotions to bring positive energy to the world. Presented within the exhibition will be two large-scale paintings of Mounds, one standing nearly eight feet tall. In addition, Hancock will present new ink-on-paper works that introduce the first chapter of the artist’s most ambitious drawings to date: Trenton Doyle Hancock Presents The Moundverse. Designed as a traditional graphic novel, this series offers a sequential understanding of the characters and stories that have dominated Hancock’s practice for the past two and a half decades.

An Ingénue’s Hues and How to Use Cutty Black Shoes continues the artist’s exploration of primal forces as they play out in The Moundverse, reflecting our current moment and inviting viewers to consider parallel themes and stories in the world around us today.

This show closes 2/17.