|CONTINUING AND RECOMMENDED, MARCH 2014|
Peter Fischli and David Weiss, "Untitled" (detail), 1994-2013, hand-carved polyurethane and acrylic paint, 164 parts, dimensions variable, is currently on view at Matthew Marks.
Peter Fischli and David Weiss are Swiss artists best know for their 1987 video "The Way Things Go" that documents a Rube Goldberg-esque chain reaction. While this 27 minute video has been shown worldwide and has a life of its own, it is not - surprise! - the artists' only work. Fischli and Weiss have created works in numerous media ranging from tables of photographs, to artist's books, to sculptures and installations. Although Weiss passed away in 2012, their collaborative works continue to be exhibited. Numerous pieces from an ongoing series begun in 1982 are on view here. These polyurethane objects are handcrafted replicas of everyday objects. Installed in a scattershot manner in the gallery, the objects are placed on pedestals and palettes created as part of the exhibit to house objects both large and small. These include tools and materials one would expect to find in an artist's studio-- as well as pizza boxes, orange peels, cigarettes and lighters. Fischli and Weiss recreate the everyday determined to "elevate the mundane to art" (Matthew Marks Gallery, West Hollywood).
Alex Prager, "Crowd #4 (New Haven)," 2013, archival pigment print, 59 1/2 x 75", is currently on view at M+B.
Continuing on a trajectory in which elaborate scenes are staged for the camera, Los Angeles based photographer Alex Prager examines the individual within a crowd. Prager functions as a director as well as a photographer and has the resources available to her (in ways similar to Gregory Crewdson) to create sets that allude to real places that are usually filled with crowds: beaches, airports and movie theatres. While each of her costumed actors assumes a role and a position, some fade to the back while others are in the spotlight. Prager's characters feel nostalgic for a different era, one of heightened color, where the women sport bobs and bright red lipstick and gaze longingly out of the frame. Prager is influenced by film and photographic sources, yet has been able to cull an individual voice from her influences. She shows keen insight into human emotion. Whether exhibiting a single image, a composited film strip or a multi-channel projection, she is able to evoke the sense of wonder, alienation as well as determination that people en mass communicate (M+B, West Hollywood).
György Kepes, "Balance," 1942, gelatin silver print, is currently on view at LACMA. The Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection, gift of The Annenberg Foundation, acquired from Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin, © The György Kepes Estate.
“See the Light — Photography, Perception, Cognition” is presented in an historically illuminating manner, identifying parallels between photography and vision science. Four distinct chronological periods are addressed, beginning with photography’s invention in 1839 and continuing through the 20th century. The first period, “Descriptive naturalism,” 1839 through 1880, posits that the camera can create an accurate picture of nature. “Subjective naturalism,” through the 1920’s, is mostly characterized by ambiguous forms and abstraction. “Experimental Modernism,” through the mid-20th century, includes abstract and avant garde images that echo the aesthetic perspective and subject matter of paintings and collages of that era. “Romantic Modernism” is described in a wall panel as believing “in the artist’s unique vision, while also advocating technical precision to realize it.” Photographs are by more than 150 artists, including many familiar masters such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Imogen Cunningham, William Henry Fox Talbot, Edward Steichen and Edward Weston. This largely chronological exhibition has many digressions, with some images from the mid-19th century displayed alongside images from a century later. Further, after perusing all 220 photographs, their quality and historical importance, rather than scientific evolution, remain in the viewer’s consciousness. Despite the many iconic photographers represented, few if any of the images are familiar, except in style.
The first section of this show includes Enrico Van Lint’s “Baptistry Pisa” (1860), a detailed image of an ancient domed cathedral, displayed alongside Evelyn Hofer’s gelatin silver print, “The Duomo, Florence” (1958). These two photographs are surprisingly similar for their clarity, details and perspectives. Graham Vivian’s “The Pennants and the Cavendishes “ (1864) depicts five women taking their ease in the long dresses and capes of the period. Another striking early image is the still life “Fruit Piece” (1844-46) by William Henry Fox Talbot. The second section features several portraits, characterized as much by inner vision as by external observation. These include “Prologue to a Sad Spring” (1919) by Weston and “Portrait of Eva Herrmann" (1920) by Alfred Stieglitz. The "Experimental Modernism” section is highlighted by Man Ray’s “229 Boulevard de Raspail” (1930) and Margaret Bourke White ‘s “Fort Peck Dam, Montana” (1936). The final section of this extraordinary exhibition features memorable examples by Walker Evans, Ansel Adams and Paul Strand. Strand's “Ranchos de Taos Church, New Mexico” (1931) is a semi-abstract depiction of classic adobe structures. To fully absorb and enjoy this show requires time, patience and stamina; the important lessons about the history and legacy of photography are the payoff (Los Angeles County Museum of Art [LACMA], Miracle Mile).
Daniel Joseph Martinez, "The report of my death is an exaggeration; Memiors: Of Becoming Narrenschiff," 2014, installation currently on view at Roberts & Tilton.
Daniel Joseph Martinez always has something to say and is never afraid to speak his mind. The density of what he communicates is often reflected in his exhibition titles - here it is "The report of my death is an exaggeration; Memoirs: Of Becoming Narrenschiff ." To understand the work one must first decode the title. For example Martinez takes as his point of departure Michel Foucault's notion of narrenschiff - using rides on Los Angeles' buses as his source material and ship of fools. Remembering and imagining fragments of what the artist heard, he crafted a suite of large-scale text based paintings that collectively read as a manifesto. The 60 x 60 inch acrylic enamel on wood paintings are declarative statements. For example, one states: "i am angry with you but i hate myself" while another declares: "Life clung to me like a disease Living in the ruins i just didnt know." The works created in different colors and type styles are hung salon style on the walls. The large-scale paintings are punctuated by small intimate photographs that appear to be soft food substances or out of focus body parts. In addition, Martinez introduces a series of photographs documenting his interventions into the urban landscape where he graffitied slogans onto walls. Martinez' slogans sometimes meld with the landscape but more often than not they cry out (Roberts & Tilton Gallery, Culver City).
Rory Devine, "Untitled (Ocean City)," 2013, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30", is currently on view at CB1.
Rory Devine's solo exhibition "Tragic Kingdom," together with a group show he curates titled "Capture the Rapture" share a common vision and sensibility. Devine's examination of the complexities of life coveys a melancholic nostalgia laced with irony through the numerous images he sources from specific Google searches. Devine has long melded the personal with the universal. The gallery is filled with realistic and abstract paintings on canvas and paper that illustrate Devine's deft hand and rendering abilities. He also adds an installation/sculptural element. In his previous show he filled the floor with black balloons that slowly deflated. In "Tragic Kingdom" a red curtain spans the back wall in front of which sits a ventriloquist's dummy that is, so states the artist, similar to one he had as a child. The installation includes beautifully rendered head shots of the doll. These small paintings, hung in a line above the desk, underscore the emotional element of the exhibition. Who speaks for whom and how and why do things go wrong (for example a painting of Kurt Cobain as a child is titled "Before I grew up and hated myself") are implicit questions raised by this work. There is the suggestion of hope that there is a way to see beauty in the chaos of contemporary life. Devine's curatorial effort in the accompanying group show further underscores the sentiment. Abstract paintings by Jack Davidson, Karin Davie, Mary Heilmann, Robert Levine, Laura Owens, Karen Schifano and Monique van Genderen explore the power of color and line to "Capture the Rapture" of the medium (CB1 Gallery, Downtown).
Xyllor Jane, "3rd Order Magic Square for Harmony," 2013, oil, marker and pencil on panel, 47 x 43", is currently on view at Santa Monica Museum.
Apparently Alfred Jensen is alive and well, and reincarnated for abstraction in the 21st Century. Only better. In all seriousness, the Massachusetts-based Xyllor Jane firmly shares a niche with Jensen in his similar use of an iconography that combines text, numerals, and patterns based on numeric systems. If his paintings can be seen as corporeal and instinctive, with their cream cheese/frosting impastos, hers are more visceral to the eye. These works are tightly crafted so as to produce complex, nuanced visual experiences. Jane employs mathematical systems such as prime numbers, palindromes and the Fibonacci sequence (the last of which was used extensively by Arte Povera’s Mario Merz) and translates them into complex patterns, mainly paint daubs neatly laid down in a grid. “Gates” (2008) is a stellar result of this process: fingertip-sized daubs of paint on a gridded black background oscillate from hard-edged to a shimmering LED dance, as if transforming the tangible to the digital (the only disappointment here is the modest room size, at times prohibiting standing back far enough to take in all the visual dynamics at play). Two works from last year, including “3rd Order Magic Square for Harmony,” plot out numbers and letters in painterly streaks rather than daubs, pushing heavily saturated colors to their limits, yet simultaneously keeping them adequately contained. On top of all this, the inclusion of a not-so-young artist in a showcase series more typically given over to much younger emerging artists - and who happens to work outside of the art capitals no less - is a big added bonus (Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica).
Michael Bartalos, "Cryoprimer 1," 2000, Palo Alto, California: Xerox PARC; artists’ book (Eight page structure created from single sheet, with laser cuts and pop-up elements; in rubber case), is currently on view at Otis College.
"Blinding Desire" presents over 100 artists books from Otis' collection. Displayed on tables, walls and in vitrines the exhibition brings to light the many different kinds of books and methods of bookmaking that artists have explored from the 1960s to the present. There are hand-made, one of a kind objects as well as those that are offset printed and widely disseminated. While many exhibitions that feature or include books make it impossible to view more than just the selected page spread, the "Binding Desire" exhibition allows viewer handling. Being able to browse these books offers insight into the myriad creative strategies artists have employed. The exhibition poses questions about what constitutes a book and what audience a given book is intended to reach. In artists’ hands books like those on view remind us just how rich are the possibilities for what a book can look like, how it functions and how or even if it is meant to be read (Otis College, Ben Maltz Gallery, West Side).
Kota Ezawa, "Paint, Unpaint," 2014, single-channel video, black and white, silent, 1 min., 30 sec., dimensions variable, is currently on view at Christopher Grimes.
For many years San Francisco-based Kota Ezawa has taken as his starting point images from the history of photography and recreated them digitally as cartoon-like versions of their former selves. He has animated fragments ranging from the OJ Simpson trial to Alain Resnais' "Last Year at Marienbad," carefully reducing each frame and image into flat areas of color. Often his works are shown as transparent light boxes that are illuminated from behind. In "Panorama" Ezawa steps away from the photographic document, instead making paintings of his reductions. The images culled from Google image searches as well as from existing artworks. He appropriates a photograph by Anne Collier of Sylvia Plath reading her poetry and of a painting from Marcel Broodthaers' "Voyage on the North Sea." The quality of the paint and its application to the surface defy the flatness of the original photographs, which was precisely what was most intriguing in Ezawa's previous work. The tensions between what is a reproduction, a painting of a photograph and a photograph of a painting are a central concern. In the back room, not to be missed, is a short animation of Jackson Pollock painting and unpainting. Using a fragment from the Hans Namuth's film of Pollock painting on glass, Ezawa cleverly loops the images forward and back so the work is forever being made and unmade (Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica).
Alfredo Ramos Martinez, "Indio con Cacto (Indian with Cactus)," c. 1938, tempera on paper, 28 1/2 x 26 1/4", is currently on view at Pasadena Museum.
© The Alfredo Ramos Martinez Research Project.
This is the first major exhibition of Alfredo Ramos Martínez' work made while living in California between 1929 and 1946, and it's simply a dazzling display of artistic virtuosity. Born in Mexico in 1871, Martinez is considered by some to be the “Father of Mexican Modernism.” As a boy he was recognized for his artistic talents, and won a scholarship to the Academy of Fine Arts in Mexico City. Later, during a decade in Europe, he learned European academic tradition as well as the art of post-Impressionism. Back in Mexico, he helped found and direct the Open Air Schools of Painting. In 1929 he moved to Los Angeles, partly due to the need for milder climate for his sickly young daughter. Here he produced the remarkable body of work that is represented in this show, under the theme of looking back to the peasants of his native land. His drawings, paintings, and murals depict Mexican women and men with a somber dignity, sometimes even serenity. There’s a monumental quality in their grave countenance and in the stolid mass of their torso.
With a strong romantic impulse, Martinez looked back to a simpler era. In “El Lago” small groupings of men in sombreros ride to and from a town by a lake surrounded by gentle hills bathed in golden light – some of the land is furrowed, indicating that it is being farmed. In the far distance are blue peaks. It’s an idyllic scene, a kind of Eden that such contemporaries as Diego Rivera also enjoyed depicting. Like Rivera, Martinez depicts women bearing flowers, symbolically reflecting their own beauty and fertility. There was the other side, too, of struggle and defiance by the poor and dispossessed – such as the defiant figure with his fist raised in “El Defensor” - that was done directly on the front page of a Los Angeles Times (Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena).
Douglas Humble, "ReConstructed Cups #2," 2013, porcelain, 9 x 10 x 6", is currently on view at Scripps College.
Scripps College commemorates the 70th year of its "Ceramic Annual" with works from 19 of the exhibition’s former curators. It is a fitting tribute to the professional artists who, beginning in 1959 at the behest of curator/professor Paul Soldner, invited prominent voices in the art world to nominate emerging talents to feature alongside already established artists. William Manker, who taught rogue ceramics classes in the basement of a Scripps dormitory in 1935, was the first to curate; that 1940 invitational eventually evolved into the Annual, and with each subsequent curator, a unique curatorial vision was added. The works in this compilation range from whimsical to traditional – with a measure of funkiness thrown in to keep things lively. Funky is definitely the word for Cindy Kolodziejski’s wall of mix media curios that resemble small oddities one might find hanging in the home of a very unusual aunt. A clay tortoise shell snugly framed by gothic wrought iron vines is pure pet cemetery, while ceramic nipples (lady’s and men’s) poking out from smooth, circular wood frames are mementos of a more personal sort. Kolodziejski’s crafted peculiarities are often clever, occasionally shocking, and always interesting – you know, just like that kooky aunt.
Also on the side of the beautifully bizarre, Kathleen Royster’s homage to a tea service takes the form of porcelaineous stoneware sculptures that are part child’s flower fairytale, part thorny nightmare. The combination of white, lilting petals adorned with hand painted wildflowers delicately cupping a nest of prickly tendrils offers a gorgeous juxtaposition of beauty and beast masquerading as teapot and cups. Tony Marsh’s platters of white, earth-encrusted organic forms also present nature askew, especially in the dish filled with porous spheres resembling dried coral. Virginia Scotchie’s "Around the World," featuring 12 glazed ceramic and wood vessels and sculptures, is wily and amusing, as if colorful spiky creatures from Venus and our own ocean depths came together for a critter party. For those who like their fantasy worlds a bit rougher, Tim Berg and Rebekah Myers’ terrifying jet black, epoxy-coated abstract sculpture recalls ominous orchids and face-sucking aliens (Scripps College, Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Claremont).
Hacer, installation view at University of La Verne, Harris Gallery, 2014, steel plate sculpture, is currently on view at La Verne.
A large magenta elephant lifts its trunk respectfully toward a violet mouse that sits atop three immaculate stainless steel crates. However, the animals are anything but traditional. Instead they are origami-inspired characters created with heavy-duty steel plates and powder coated to a brilliant shine. A cross between the professional finish of Jeff Koons’ "Balloon Dog" and the playful whimsy of Alexander Calder’s" Circus," the result is an installation that provokes dialogue among the physical forms in addition to the geometric shapes that materialize within the shadows of the sculptures.
Hacer creates these playful objects in reaction to a painful childhood filled with violence, displacement, and drug abuse. The folds metaphorically are a way of reshaping this past into something that acknowledges history yet also renews it. The playfulness exists not only in the imagery but in its formal structure. Five geometric paintings line two walls of the gallery, framing the interaction of the animals. The simple prisms of color formally push one’s eyes back and forth between the objects and the two-dimensional work. It’s as though they are extensions of the shadows that hide deep in the folds of the sculptures and extend out onto the exhibition space. Back to the mouse that directs the pink pachyderm, the formal and physical mirror the complimentary relationship of the utter disparate animals engage in a shared purpose that informs the entire show (University of La Verne, Harris Gallery, San Gabriel Valley).
G. James Daichendt
James Griffth, “Nature Selection – Stag Fight,” 2013, tar on canvas, 52 x 84”, is currently on view at El Camino College.
Using the primordial goop he pulled from the La Brea Tar Pits like an ancient sumi ink painter, James Griffith adds a haunting layer of archeological time to his small, elegant drawings in “(R)evolution: Reflecting on Charles Darwin.” The thinned out brownish tar charges his images of prowling cougars, fighting stags, delicately perched finches and fighting buzzards with a very liquid sense of moving mortality. Though the animals are not prehistoric they pick up a sense of ancient resonance from the painterly wash that the artist loosely puddles and swirls before adding tight specific details. Often, as in “Natural Selection - Mountain Lion” it feels as if the artist is trying to reverse the morbidity of the pits by pulling the memory of a living, stalking beast from the thick oil that has doomed so many other hunters over time.
The artist pushes past that rather simple act of wedding the ancient past to the present in other compositions, like his flowing prey and predator helix in “Corpus Collosus”. Here the rich brown of the watered-down mire becomes a twisting, painterly doubled line of merging animals. The fox reaches for the hare, the quick hare escapes; clams, fish and lobster all share a liquid, gestural line of continuity with antlered stags and dark birds in flight. It’s a beautiful thought about shared genetic material thoughtfully connected to the live and die rule nature lives by.
Griffith often reminds us with these tar paintings that nature is brutal and powerful. His “Natural Selection” series presents us with not only rutting stags engaged in combat but, in “Push-Me-Pull-You,” with two competing vultures wheeling above a strange goat with two opposing heads. It is a disturbing image, suggesting not only the randomness of nature’s own genetic miscalculations but also human manipulation of DNA codes in attempts to produce a new “improved” nature exclusively for our own consumption. The artist comments on this 21st century kind of self-involved genetic alchemy with a little alchemy of his own: to the brown of the tar he adds areas of yellow pollen, poisonous blue copper sulphate and grey human ash. It’s a delicate visual mixture but a potent physical metaphor for the danger that we face as humanity continues to manipulate interconnected things we still don’t fully comprehend in a natural world where life is such a fragile thing and death is so ancient (El Camino College Art Gallery, Torrance).
Julianne Swartz and Ken Landauer, still from "Miracle Report," 20013, video based site-specific installation, is currently on view at CSUF Grand Central.
The concept of miracles is suspect to many, unless your religious belief includes this kind of phenomena as an aspect of dogma. Therefore, a viewer entering “Miracle Report” might be skeptical of the veracity of what she/he is about to see and hear. Once inside the darkened exhibition space — lit primarily by several dozen videos of hands, floating on black backgrounds, accompanied by cacophonous sounds of numerous people speaking softly, along with intermittent electronic organ sounds — the viewer is likely to feel disoriented. This is the ambiance intended by Julianne Swartz and Ken Landauer, of Bard College, who created this multi-media work during a residency at Arizona State University Art Museum. After all, miracles are often considered mysterious, if they even exist. The creative team, wanting to hear about others’ miracles, sent a missive to the local Arizona community requesting stories. They ultimately had 68 people of a variety of ages share their tales anonymously, all in videos that reveal only the subjects’ illuminated hands.
Not surprisingly, the stories are a hodgepodge, from falling in love, to escaping tragedy, to recovering from nearly fatal illnesses and more. And each one is difficult to hear, as they emanate quietly from small speakers, while competing with accounts from nearby videos. To hear all the stories requires patience, time, and the ability to stand still while listening to each one. While a few tales of heroism and of overcoming odds will remain with the viewer, it is easy to miss the forest for the trees in this fascinating exhibition. For it is an immersive experience of darkened enigmatic, even spooky sights, accompanied by a competing, whispery Tower of Babel of voices that sound otherworldly at times. Beyond the intellectual/spiritual/miraculous explanatory didactics accompanying this show, it is like a fun-house that is akin to entering an old Vincent Price movie, and evocative of Diana Thater’s “Wicked Witch” video at OCMA nearby that brings viewers into a “Wizard of Oz” scenario (CSUF Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana).
Susan Henry, "Vortex," 2009, recycled men's wool trousers, is currently on view at SOKA University.
This comprehensive exhibition from "California Fibers," a statewide organization, comprises 66 works from 22 Southern California artists. The works speak both of tradition and wide-ranging contemporary artistic exploration. The works include weaving, basketry, sculpture, quilting, embroidery, felting, surface design, knitting, crochet, wearables and mixed media. At first glance we may be taken in by memories of childhood crafts and materials, but a closer look reveals not only well honed skill, but conceptual and narrative concepts that refer to home, nature and contemporary issues. Michael Rohde’s hand dyed wool and natural dyes use geometry and color to weave beautifully crafted tapestries. Julie Kornblum uses the traditions of basket-making and weaving to create patterned colorful wall works that include both yarns and recycled plastic bags. An 8 foot wide, 15 foot long installation work by Lynne Hodgeman called “Alterpiece” uses crocheted light brown rayon thread to create an ephemeral work that has both a rhythmic and spiritual feel. Charlotte Bird’s "Small Wonders," a large format quilt made of hand dyed commercial cotton, silk, polyester thread and machine stitched embroidery features an oval pattern made up of varying sized circles and within those are organic shapes and patterns of colorfully stitched organic images. Susan Henry’s "Vortex," is made up of numerous triangular-shaped hand cut pieces of recycled men’s wool trousers that create a compelling wall work. These and many more works express the broad-ranging content and materials and increasingly expanded view of what comprises contemporary fiber (SOKA University, Orange County).
Elmer Bischoff, "Two Figures at the Seashore," 1957, oil on canvas, 57 x 57", is currently on view at OCMA.
“California Landscape Abstraction,” culled from this museum’s vast trove of artworks, is an insightfully curated show, displaying a variety of media and styles from 1920’s impressionism, to modernism, conceptual and contemporary art. While the show as a whole reveals a fresh look at California art made over the last 90 years, a thematic rather than chronological arrangement gives this exhibition structure and cerebral interest. Themed galleries include "Paradise Endangered," "First Impressions," "Color and Light," and "The Modernist Variations." But individual works are the most enticing element. Elmer Wachtel’s “Landscape” (1922), the oldest piece in the show, is a haunting image, presumably a landscape at dusk, devoid of buildings or people, with the sun setting in the background. “Dune, Death Valley” (1938) by Edward Weston, a black and white close-up photograph of a dune, has striated details that mimic waves or fields of wheat. One of the few pieces including figures is Elmer Bischoff’s “Two Figures at the Seashore” (1957), a classic Bay Area figurative expressionist work that achieves a careful balance between the two figures and the sun washed ocean scape with brilliant sky beyond them.
John Divola’s “Untitled (Zuma Beach Series)” (1978), of a seascape canvas in a falling apart room, with a window open to the deep blue sky, combines all elements of the show, including the abstract and conceptual. Richard Diebenkorn's “Ocean Park #36” (1970), with its broad swaths of misty blue, mirrors the nearby sea and sky of the artist’s Ocean Park, Santa Monica neighborhood. Among the video works, Diana Thater’s “Wicked Witch” (1996) features projectors that display poppy fields, bringing the viewer into a “Wizard of Oz” world. Mungo Thomson’s “The American Desert (for Chuck Jones)” (2002) is a 32-minute video with clips from more than 70 “Roadrunner” cartoons from the 1950’s and 60’s. Each clip, devoid of rabbit and coyote, shows only the carefully rendered southwest dessert backdrops (Orange County Museum of Art[OCMA], Orange County).
Michael Maas, "Alhambra Confluence #117," 2013, acrylic/spray on panel, 16 x 12", is currently on view at Brett Rubbico.
A superb colorist, Michael Maas focuses on how much he can tighten the distance between similar but distinct tones; and how much he can bring colors further apart while maintaining a tight range of saturated and highly contrasting colors. Not only does Maas effect minute changes in hues; that artist effect subtle alterations overall, abstract configurations of vertical or horizontal trompe l'œil illusions made with a slightly skewed foreground, background, and the repeated presence of his signature Alhambra S-curves.
Most artists who focus on color as subject maximize or minimize the range of tones on a rectangular ground, as they repeatedly apply flat color on flat color in multiple layers and sensitively alter the tonal qualities from below to above the surface. But it is Maas’s shapely curve that is here the real challenge. Like a master violinist who finds the hidden sound between two consecutive notes, Maas’s colors must snake around a curvilinear image, adding to the painting’s inner dynamics. The work is so sensitively created that there is never redundancy nor boredom, only the thrill of breathtaking nuances of colors, relationships of shapes, and an overall original shimmering ground that is downright hypnotic.
Previously, Maas’s S-curve patterns came alive only in broad daylight. Now the color of these acrylic on panel paintings takes on an added dimension by becoming lively at any time of day or night, in ambient light, or when the painting is viewed from its left or its right side. When Maas flips the Alhambra curve the formal elements of color, mood, space and composition become affected. A blue may look like a blue gray or a gray. An orange may become darker or lighter. The black-on-black paintings are simply brilliant. Another consideration is how Maas explores negative space and even some blank areas. Consequently what seems invisible pulls its weight in the energy of each painting, while projecting an aura that glows, and at times, seems haunting and ghostly. These 20 paintings of various sizes and intricacies of execution project stimulating, beautiful, yet calming atmospherics (Brett Rubbico Gallery, Orange County).
Jorge Dubin, "FBF-427," 2012, oil on linen, 10 x 8", is currently on view at LCAD.
If you’ve wondered how the term “friend” has changed in the digital age, particularly given how Facebook has co-opted the term, Jorg Dubin lays the question to rest. In this small but powerful “Facebook Friends” series, the artist’s four dozen fragmented portraits in sizes 8” x 8 inches to 10 x 10 inches are painted directly from his Facebook friends’ profile pictures. The caveat is that nearly all of these pictures are cropped to reveal only parts of each face, while several faces are rotated slightly to odd angles. Dubin is apparently questioning what a friend really is, not only digitally, but in reality today, by skewing and tampering with these pictures. Think of the term, “frenemy” (first appearing in Webster’s Dictionary in 2009) meaning an enemy pretending to be a friend or a friend who is also a rival. In fact, Dubin says, “Friends, via social media, is wrought with fraud and hypocrisy. The term, ‘friend’ is subverted to mean something completely different than our traditional understanding of what a friend truly is.” So he takes his digital friends and turns them into sometimes grotesque and other times simply humorous versions of how they present themselves in their profile pictures. These deft, expressively painted oils, including the likes of Peter Blake, Peter Frank, Andi Campognone, Mat Gleason (with his red “joker” hair), Eric Johnson, Eric Swenson, and of people who Dubin doesn't know at all, make us wonder, what are people really thinking when they greet us? Beyond that, these works are little painterly gems that offer a fresh interpretation of contemporary portraiture (Laguna College of Art and Design, LCAD on Forest Gallery, Orange County).
Joe Goode, "Travelogue 10 (Water)," acrylic, archival digital print on handmade Japanese paper, 10 3/4 x 9 1/2", is currently on view at Peter Blake.
Joe Goode presents a selection of eight new works, each a little treasure from this artist’s “Travelogue” series. These acrylic, archival images on handmade Japanese paper gain depth and luminosity from the overlay of transparent acrylic gel. Despite their size — the largest is 11 x 9.5 inches — they pulse with energy, emanating from the subtle gradations of blues, grays and blacks, and from the blending of color, light and texture. And like gems, their energy gives them larger than life qualities. “Travelogue 44 (Tornado)” is a vertical piece in various shades of blue with acrylic gel seemingly stroked across the canvas; this work evokes this artist’s earlier “Cloud” pieces. “Travelogue 20 (Tree),” also vertical, takes on the majesty of a tree with a broad swath of black across the bottom that supports the tree-like image. “Travelogue 10 (Water)” blends blacks with blues and pinks, resulting in a flowing, abstract depiction of a lake or a river. The rest of this series is similarly non-objective yet suggestive of nature (Peter Blake Gallery, Orange County).
Elizabeth Turk, "X-Ray Mandalas, 16 Volute," x-ray/light box, 48 x 48", is currently on view at SCAPE.
Fabulous shapes within shapes fill the large, luminous x-ray prints made by sculptor Elizabeth Turk at her recent SARF Fellowship with the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. They are a revelation. Who knew that inside simple sea shells like a cowry or wendletrap spiral are complex interior architectures that can repeat and expand like glowing mathematical fractals? Turk calls her black 16 x 16 inch and 48 x 48 inch film negatives on oversized light boxes “X-Ray Mandalas”. They do indeed immediately suggest Buddhism’s elaborate geometric representations of the universe. It is fascinating to realize that this kind of detail and complexity is routinely made from the organic calcium of living organisms. The sculptor in Turk is always on the hunt for natural matrixes and frameworks that can resist the incredible force of gravity. She carves 1500 pound blocks of marble into 50 pound hollowed out stone forms that look like empty cages made of smooth ribbon or towering, soft stacks of sinuous, curving taffy. Those sculptures amaze for their tactile understanding of rock and the skilled patience that she brings to them. These "X-Ray Mandala" images amaze because they revel in the fundamental formal logic and magnificence of nature’s structures.
Also showing are Ann Gardner’s glass mosaic sculptures that seem to be emerging from the wall like thick, glittering ropes or bejeweled pythons. The glass covers the forms in a living skin of light that adds to her sculpture’s sense of slow, ongoing movement. Movement also drives Carol Saindon’s beautiful fragmented oceans. Each is made from cut and collaged photographic squares of charging froth mounted on a grid. By matching movement and form from one fragment to the next she builds what feels like whole oceans of turbulent, powerful water. More calm, but no less engaging, is the hard to distinguish line where sky meets ocean at the horizon in the oil on canvas painting by Eric Gerdau. It’s a layered and worthwhile examination of sight and emotion. (SCAPE, Orange County).
Sandy Rodriguez, "Payasa," 1998, oil on panel, 12 x 12", is currently on view at MoCA San Diego Downtown. Courtesy of Cheech Marin.
Cheech Marin, who is known as a comedian, has been an avid collector of Chicano art for 25 years. He has built a renowned collection that has travelled across the United States in several venues. "Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collectin" presents paintings by Chicano artists, including established figures such as John Valadez, Leo Limón and Patssi Valdez, as well as younger emerging artists like Jari “Werc” Álvarez, Ana Teresa Fernández, and Sonia Romero. Each of the works in the exhibition are about 16 inches or smaller, and depict subjects that include familiar landscapes, notions of cultural heritage, familial relationships and social community. In "Chicanitas" Marin has drawn together a rich variety of works that express the complex texture of the Chicano experience. This combination of figurative and landscape works form a kind of expressive realism – depicting a musical rhythm, vibrancy of spirit and color, emotional depth and often straightforward simplicity of day to day life. There is a ten minute video accompanying this exhibition which is an important contribution to this show because of Cheech Marin’s incredible enthusiasm and passion in talking about his collection. He says “I had an immediate and visceral reaction to these paintings … they are self contained and draw you in.” It is interesting to note that some of the works in this exhibition are painted by artists who have never shown their work before this show (Museum of Contemporary Art [MoCA] San Diego Downtown, San Diego).
Guy Tillim, "Congo Democratic," archival pigment print, is currently on view at MoPA.
“What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do.” This quote by Aristotle is placed in large letters at the entrance to the "Power" exhibition. The title and theme of ‘power’ refers to the use of photography as an instrument to shed light on important global, social and environmental issues. It is based on Prix Pictet, an annual juried prize that has established itself as one of the world’s leading acknowledgments in photography and sustainability. “Power” is the subject of this year’s installment – photography professionals from around the world nominated 650 photographers from 76 countries and the list was whittled down to 12 for this exhibition. Guy Tillim, a South African photojournalist exhibits black and white archival pigment prints taken in 2006 during the weeks of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s first general election since the 1990’s. These images mirror the political wasteland and unrest resulting from the rivalry of the two presidential candidates at that time. Jacqueline Hassink, a photographer from the Netherlands presents images from her series “Arab Domains,” chromogenic prints made of the dining rooms and boardrooms of 36 of the leading women's businesses from 18 Arab countries. Hassink uses the ‘table,’ in this case, a symbol for economic power, to shed light on the lives of these highly successful women in cultures traditionally lacking in female role models. French photographer Philippe Chancel documents the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami and ensuing nuclear reactor incident in northern Japan in “Datazone,” an archival inkjet print revealing the power of natural disasters. Photographer Edmund Clark explores the spaces and objects of power and control of prisoners incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay. Other photographers explore subjects of war, oil spills, the impact of deforestation in the northwestern U.S. and the social realities of life in urban areas (Museum of Photographic Arts[MoPA], San Diego).