CONTINUED AND RECOMMENDED, MARCH 2016

Brice Marden, “Uphill with Center,” 2012-15, oil on linen, five panels, overall 48 1/8 x 192 5/8", is currently on view at Matthew Marks.

 

Brice Marden's latest minimalist paintings possess elegance, power and resonance. Marden, whose career dates back to the 1960s, is one of the most accomplished painters working today. These paintings are subtle, never a quick read or brightly colored. Rather they are meditative, monochromatic works achieved by applying layers and layers of muted earthy colors to the surface. These perfectly crafted surfaces invite careful scrutiny. Works from two series are on view: monochromes and calligraphic works. In the monochromes, a horizontal pencil line divides each so that a finished rectangle sits atop loose drips that emanate from the line, placed so as to reveal the process of creation. The calligraphic paintings are overtly gestural — lines swirl on top of a neutral ground, weaving back and forth across the composition. The largest work here, "Uphill with Center," combines three monochrome panels with a calligraphic panel. In this work, based on the four seasons, one imagines the colors of summer or spring transitioning into fall and winter as Marden's undulating stokes cascade across the panels (Matthew Marks Gallery, West Hollywood).

Jody Zellen

 

 

 

Matthew Porter, “Dynamic of the Dark,” 2015, archival pigment print, 43 x 34 1/4”, is currently on view at M+B.

 

 

"Four False Starts" not only refers to Matthew Porter's exhibition of four series of works, but is also a reference to Janet Malcom's "Forty-one False Starts," an essay written about artist David Salle for the New Yorker Magazine in 1994. Porter's exhibition is a conceptual photography project in which the artist presents sixteen photographs, four images from each of four series, installing them across sections of the gallery. The photographs are formally related, though made in different locations using different cameras and processes. Juxtaposed are colorful still-lifes that are multiple exposures, black and white images of a model in a patterned jump suit, black and white still-lifes constructed for the camera containing gears and metal fragments, as well as sombre abstract photographs of machinery created at Polich Tallix, a fabrication facility in upstate New York. While the images work in concert with each other, they also resonate in their own right as Porter's arrangements have a Bauhausian sensibility and elegance. The images are at once familiar and strange (M+B, West Hollywood).

JZ

 

 

Channa Horwitz, “Eight Part Fugue,” 1981, is currently on view at Francois Ghebaly.

 

 

LED lights, a haunting aural hum, foam blocks that evoke the walls of a recording studio: that’s our first impression of London-based artist Harron Mirza’s compelling “A Chamber for Horwitz, Sonakinatography Transcriptions in Surround Sound.”  It’s only by staying in that chamber for awhile that the true force of the exhibition can be absorbed. The work musically transcribes a composition by Channa Horwitz, “Sonakinatgoraphy Composition III.” The acoustic foam blocks contain the sound created by the LED lights, which hum in a series of varying octaves as the lights themselves change color. The shifting colors of the LEDs create the impression of sunlight shifting on stained glass windows — on another planet. Viewers are hushed and reverent, taking in sound that might be an otherworldly choir preparing to sing. This immersive installation connects sound, electric current, and rainbows of light in signature Mirza style.

 

Horwitz inspired Mirza beyond this singular work. “To the Top,” is an inclusive exhibition, tracking Horwitz’ work from the artist’s “Rhythm of Lines,” series as well as the “Book of 8.” Over her five-decade career, the late artist deeply developed her sonakinatography-rooted aesthetic. This process refers to a pattern the artist referred to as sound, motion and notation. Her drawings follow intricate, delicately detailed geometric patterns using a grid, combining lines and angles in a rhythmic structure.

 

Just as Mirza uses Horwitz’ patterns to create a symphonic interpretation of light and sound, Horwitz references sound and light to create her patterns, grids, graphed designs, dots and points. It’s a blissfully symbiotic relationship. Joining the work of these two artists in one exhibition results in a vibrant and stimulating show that takes us into a transcendent world of both aural and visual precision that’s also consistently magical (Francois Ghebaly Gallery, Downtown).

Genie Davis

 

 

Ken Price, “Orange,” 1964, ceramic, lacquer, acrylic, is currently on view at Parrasch-Heijnen.

 

 

"Ken Price: A Career Survey 1961-2008" features a carefully curated selection of the ceramist's work. Though Price's work was often exhibited in Los Angeles, and a retrospective was featured at LACMA in 2012, this minimal yet beautifully installed exhibition demands the trip, especially if you visited the previous LACMA show. Atop four expansive white pedestals sit carefully placed table-top sized sculptures ranging from the intricately speckled surfaces of bulbous ceramic works like “Compo" and “Izzy" (both 2005), to the more geometric pieces like "Rhoda” (1988), where Price juxtaposed the textured with the smooth to produce a tension within the work's surface. The exhibition, while not expansive, is a beautiful introduction to Price's diverse and always compelling sculptures (Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, Downtown).

JZ

 

 

Debo Eilers, “Stall (Flex Rim),” 2016, mixed media sculpture, is currently on view at Night.

 

 

A large rectangular black sculpture stands like a frozen robot inside the cavernous space. This uncanny installation, “Stall (Flex Rim),” employs layers of epoxy and what Debo Eilers describes as “basketball goals” to create something otherworldly, a sculpture that looks as if it has been seared in a fire. Eilers use of epoxy surfaces extends throughout the exhibition, including paired pieces such as “Rooster Tail,” in which the seemingly molten plastic, trailing wires, hangs above a painting that hints at the colors and form of a children’s book, depicting a “Raggedy Andy” type figure, smiling but sprawled against the floor.

 

An untitled piece voices the words “Be Even Better” over a brightly pink-dominated image of a woman with yellow hair, one dangling earing and asymmetrical, askew eyeglasses. A pattern that resembles watermelon slices forms her hat and dress; her lips are blue. The epoxy earring, eyeglasses, and lips are raised. A freestanding sculpture resembling a melted red jungle gym dangles chains. One of many “Untitled” pieces features tiny pink figures ringed in white as they traverse a dark background, whose many muted colors evoke stained glass or abstract winter flowers. There’s a pair of lips, what could be male genitalia and the ghostly word “Mom” in the foreground to dominate the space. Are these aliens? Personified sperm, making their way into the almighty Mother? The effect is both compelling and elusive. It’s not a coincidence that Eieler’s works contain brightly colored, child-like drawings and sculptures that could’ve sprung, fully formed, from the heart of an urban, internal volcano.

 

Born in Texas and working in New York, Eiler’s work seems to channel both locations. Spare and open forms mix with twisted shapes; bright colored-pencil images vie for visual recognition with spare, flat epoxy forms; a school of darkly-hued rainbow fish swim across a stark white wall. The exhibition’s title, “Liberty,” is an expression of just that. We’re free to see whatever we want to see, the artist is free to create whatever he wants to create, and the two may not be entirely analogous. When asked for the inspiration behind these works, Eiler notes, “To keep warm.” The artist’s bold contrasts and scruffy forms definitely add heat that fuses the viewer to this improbable, darkly whimsical exhibition (Night Gallery, Downtown).

GD

 

 

Aaron Fowler, “Beach,” 2015, mixed media, 95 x 139 x 10”, is currently on view at Diane Rosenstein.

 

 

Aaron Fowler is a young African American artist who, since receiving his MFA from Yale in 2014, is being recognized as an up and comer. He received a 2015 Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant and was awarded a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem. The large-scale assemblages of "Blessings on Blessings" are based on the lyrics from a 2015 song by rapper Big Sean. The quasi-narrative works collage painted elements with iconic objects from popular culture like sneakers, CDs and printed ephemera. Fowler uses folding tables as well as wooden palettes as sculptural surfaces on which he builds his creations. The works are densely layered as Fowler uses everything at his disposal. Cigar packages are used to create the figurative elements that populate these works. These ambitious assemblages have a kinship with other noted African American artists — David Hammons, William Pope L. and Kerry James Marshall come to mind. Fowler's work asserts a confident and purposeful funkiness as he explores personal and universal themes referring to race and culture (Diane Rosenstein, Hollywood).

JZ

 

 

Josh Reames and Jose Lérma, “He Hath Founded it Upon the Seas I, Monument to Wilson and Kelling,” 2016, is currently on view at Luis De Jesus.

 

 

Josh Reames' crafty airbrushed and trump l'oeil-heavy paintings are given a healthy re-fresh through a collaboration with his friend and fellow painter Jose Lérma. Together they've created two mural-sized paintings (which were custom made to fill both long walls of the front gallery) dubbed "He Hath Founded It Upon The Seas (I and II)." They’re simultaneously cartoony and epic, replete with seafaring and island iconography and doodle-like caricatures of disembodied noses, colonizers hauling bowling ball/bombs and an immense sandal-clad leg stepping across the middle of the expanse. The palette is limited to black and white and just a touch of blue (for the cannons), which precludes Reames’ past tendencies to veer a little too heavily toward kitsch. The paintings, at about 24-feet-wide, so dominate the space that you’ll be more prone to view them section-by-section, rather than as a whole (indeed, it’s not possible to stand back far enough in the relatively narrow space; craning up at a movie screen from the first few rows comes to mind, though with the paintings it becomes an opportunity, not a deficit).

 

Individual paintings by the respective artists in the back gallery make it very clear just whose mark-making is whose, and Lerma makes a particularly strong impression with an orgy of heads limited to hair, beards, noses and mouths, set off intermittently by highly patterned black-and-white backgrounds. Their sculptural installation, "Monument to Wilson and Kelling," in which a door with a pocked mirrored surface hangs from a chain and spins off a motor, lit with a blue light filtered by cleaning products, is not without a modicum of ambition (it refers to the broken windows theory, in criminology, that curtailing minor crimes prevents the escalation of more serious crimes). However, here complexity comes off as completely out of context, and thus serves as no more than an afterthought (Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Culver City).

Michael Shaw

 

 

Lee Ufan, “From Point,” 1977, glue and mineral pigment on canvas, 57 3/8 x 44 1/16”, is currently on view at Blum & Poe.

 

 

"Dansaekhwa and Minimalism" is a museum quality show that juxtaposes Korean monochromatic painting (Dansaekhwa) with works by American Minimalists: both paintings and sculptures. The pieces here, dating from the 1960s to the present, are exemplary examples of the relationships between relatable movements taking place at the same time in different parts of the world, and the serendipitous similarities that occur. Included are works by Carl Andre, Chung Sang-hwa, Ha Chonghyun, Robert Irwin, Kwon Young-woo, Lee Ufan, Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Agnes Martin, Park Seobo, Robert Ryman, Richard Serra, and Yun Hyong-keun. The curators were able to secure many choice works that are not often seen by both well- and little known artists (Blum & Poe, Culver City).

JZ

 

 

Berkenblit, “Tiger vs. Peacocks,” 2015, oil and paint stick on linen, 76 x 92”, is currently on view at Susanne Vielmetter  Photo: Adam Reich

 

 

One might feel inclined to rain on Berkenblit’s sophisticatedly colored parade; what with her use of children’s book imagery that feels conceptually cutesy. There's a heavily eye-lashed girl (maybe a witch?), a tiger and a peacock that make up her small cast of characters, along with flowers darting this way and that. It’s all just such a silly conceit. Or is it? What they make up, in concert, are compositions demonstrating the importance of scale. Perhaps these characters are simply pawns in Berkenblit’s image-over-content prioritizing math. Rotating around the picture plane from one painting to the next, these configurations are virtually exploding with kineticism, making their eight feet of height or width feel even bigger than they already are. The characters, in beige (the girl’s face), pastel orange, purple-blue and green, fight for attention across a black background, the negative space peaking in and around the tiger’s stripes and various open-mouthed facial expressions. Ultimately, we’re looking at nothing more than an exercise in painterly formalism; but here form is executed with figuration, in this cryptically intertwined cast of characters, as opposed to going the route of ‘pure’ abstraction. It does give one pause. And the striking execution of its field-popping scale helps imprint it to memory in a way that rises above the fray (Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Culver City).

MS

 

 

Ericka Beckman, “Cinderella,” 2016, installation view currently at Cherry and Martin.

 

 

Ericka Beckman's 16mm film (presented here as a digital video) “Cinderella" is a musical treatment of the fairytale in which actors, constructed props and animations offer Beckman's interpretation. The film as presented here becomes an installation, where the projection is seen in relation to some of the sculptural props used in the film. The film was created in 1986, and is clearly dated, but it is the very dated-ness of the special effects and contrived artificiality that makes the work intriguing. Live action and animated elements are combined to reformulate the well-known story. As the 30-minute narrative unfolds amidst song and game-like graphics, Beckman's presentation of the protagonist's plight gradually becomes clearer. What was applauded as a feminist critique and very much a work of its time (the mid-80's) still resonates. It’s an unexpected surprise to see a young Mike Kelley acting in one of the opening scenes (Cherry and Martin, Culver City).

JZ

 

 

Jiro Takamatsu, “Rusty Ground,” 1977, iron and wire, 19 3/4 x 236 1/4 x 126 3/4”, is currently on view at Kayne Griffin Corcoran.

 

 

The influential Japanese artist and teacher Jiro Takamatsu (1936-1998) is here represented with examples from different bodies of work. Highlighting the exhibition is the monumental sculpture "Rusty Ground," which was exhibited in Documenta 6 in 1977. Moving from the geometric line drawings of the 1970s and 80s to the photographs of sculptural interventions from the same decade, to the shadow paintings of the 90s it becomes evident that while Takamatsu changed mediums he never abandoned his conceptual roots. While works like "In the Form of Square” (1972) explore geometric relationships between three black forms situated on a white (paper) ground, works like “Shadow” (1997) are about the relationship between positive and negative space. Even the more humorous “Compound" pieces (both sculptures and photographs) are about the influence one object has on another and what it takes to render a utilitarian object — like a chair or a ladder — useless. Takamatsu's contemplative works are rooted in philosophical and spacial investigations (Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Miracle Mile).

JZ

 

 

Andy Warhol, “Kenny Scarf and Unidentified Man,” n.d., black and white photograph, is currently on view at CSU Northridge.

 

 

From the moment most Hollywood movie directors initially call “Action!” until the editor’s final cut, keeping film audiences entertained for a couple of hours normally takes precedence over presenting any semblance of the passage of time as it actually occurs in everyday life. Andy Warhol challenged that convention in 1963 with an “anti-film” entitled “Sleep,” a 6-hour take of his friend John Giorno, sleeping. Visitors can catch a nap and have lunch at a noon-hour public event scheduled for March 17th to augment “Re-Viewing Andy Warhol’s Work in the Age of Social Media and Self Curating.” “Sleep,” one of Warhol’s earliest experiments with filmmaking, screens daily in the gallery between March 7th and 26th. “Empire,” a “real time” portrait of the Empire State building, filmed under Warhol’s direction on a July night in1964 from the 41st floor of the Time-Life Building, is screening through March 5th.

 

Curator Mario Ontiveros has adeptly arranged fifty Warhol polaroids, accented by a couple dozen of the artist’s black and white photographs and three colorful screen prints, to reflect a claim by Warhol that “A picture just means I know where I was every minute.” Viewers will find themselves surrounded by the likes of “Queen Elizabeth,” “Kenny Scharf and Unidentified Man,” “Ladies and Gentlemen (Broadway)” and  “Nude Model (Male).” Projected nearby is a selection of filmed black-and-white "screen test" portraits of Factory visitors, a tempting background for your very own selfie portrait (CSU Northridge Art Gallery, San Fernando Valley).

Diane Calder

 

 

William Rice, “Guardian of the Timberline,” ca. 1924, block printed in colors on paper, 12 1/8 x 14 3/8", is currently on view at the Pasadena Museum. © Ellen Treseder Sexauer; collection of Roberta Rice Treseder.

 

 

There have been no shortage of painters and photographers eager to capture California’s natural beauty, but few can convey craggy trees, cerulean lakes, and precipitous mountains with such simple, stark grandeur as Arts and Crafts adherent William Rice did a century ago. The small prints, ranging from depictions of Yosemite to windblown cypress trees to verdant valleys, combine the reverence for nature of landscape painters with the bold touch of early modernists — colors are vibrant and flat, the lines thickly limned in black in allusion to Japanese block prints. While “Night — Yosemite” (1925) is serene, with a twinkling starry night reminiscent of Whistler’s “Nocturnes," “Blue Gums Berkeley” (1917) features attenuated trees that stretch tall into a blue sky filled purple clouds, all gloriously backlit. Rice’s view of nature is heroic, dignified, and ultimately benevolent. “Guardians of the Timberline” (1924) features two trees, one felled but the other standing triumphantly atop jagged rocks, a snowy mountain range and roiling clouds in the distance. Humans are decidedly absent which, to contemporary viewers well aware of our deleterious impact on nature, evokes a no-doubt unintended melancholy and nostalgia (Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena).

Kristen Osborne-Bartucca

 

 

Mabel Poblet, “Desconstruída,” digital print, silk screen, acetate and nails, 26 x 29 1/2”, is currently on view at Salt.

 

 

This gallery, which specializes in Latin American art, made its first foray to Cuba in 2012, returning with works by a half dozen Cuban artists who expressed in their works frustrations about their repressive, isolated country, as well as their hopes for it. For this latest selection of Cuban artworks, “Pop Goes the World,” Lisandra Ramirez and Mabel Poblet continue with themes of isolation, in spite of the recent thaw in relations with their country. Ramirez’ small sculptures are based on Manga cat cartoons — with sweet faces, bulging eyes and even sunglasses — in white and hot pink. With titles such as “Artificial Life,” “I am Pink” and “Between Flowers,” these toy-like pieces beguile, while recalling a happier time, real or imagined. Poblet’s several mixed media paintings combine pop art themes with bright fauve-like colors. Each painting features a character — actually several versions of this character — wearing a red afro wig and striped red stocking, who is presumably a feminine variation of Narcissus from Greek mythology. Yet this rendition, with titles including “Desconstruida,” “Descarrolada” and “Upward,” regards herself in a mirror, which is symbolic of repressive Communism. Beyond the multiple symbolisms in these pieces, there is an appealing, almost psychedelic, aesthetic beauty. While the works of both artists are deeply personal, they also express themes that resonate politically (Salt Fine Art, Orange County).

Liz Goldner

 

 

Abraham Bosse, “The Pastry Shop,” 1660s, is currently on view at the Getty Museum.

 

 

If the table settings on television's "Downton Abbey" whet your appetite, “The Edible Monument: The Art of Food for Festivals,” will satiate you on the finer points of private courtly dining in Europe before and after the time when guests were seated in hierarchical order at dinner extravaganzas in grand locations like Versailles and Vienna. This exhibition features 140 rare prints and illustrated books that portray palace and kitchen scenes along with sugar molding manuals, carving diagrams and napkin folding instructions designed to assist those serving the affluent. Also on view are depictions of public civic festivals in which food was dished out to hungry crowds. The oldest object on display, dating to 1530, is a 50-foot scroll. Made up of engravings pieced together, it depicts a procession celebrating the coronation of Emperor Charles V at Bologna in which the last panel features a view of members of the crowd gorging on a roast ox stuffed with other animals. For those foodies eager to explore the exhibition with the aid of mobile devices, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker — not to mention the coffee seller, vinegar man and other merchants who worked the streets with the instruments of their trade in 16th- through 18th-century Europe — await them in an engrossing computer game.

 

In 1839, slightly more than a century and a half before “selfies” became prevalent, Louis Daguerre announced his discovery of a means to reproduce, on a polished silver plated sheet of copper, the image produced by a camera obscura. A portrait, or any view projected upon this plate, left an imprint in light and shade in a form so perfect that it became known as “a mirror with a memory.” Although daguerreotypes had limitations (they could not be rendered in natural color, easily duplicated or instantly posted on Facebook), anyone who could patiently sit still and had the equivalent of two to five dollars to spend, could have their portrait taken, a privilege at the time enjoyed primarily by the wealthy. “In Focus: Daguerreotypes” presents a selection of one-of-a-kind images from the museum’s and musician Graham Nash’s collections, enhanced by a display of opulent period frames. Famed officials and now anonymous subjects are presented, along with views of subjects as diverse as the Parthenon, a barn in New Hampshire and the surgical operation in which anesthesia was initially used. Perhaps most importantly, “In Focus: Daguerreotypes" provides an opportunity to contemplate photography’s early presence in comparison with the omnipresent role it plays in society today (J. Paul Getty Museum, West Los Angeles).

DC

 

 

Catherine Opie, “700 Nimes Road” installation view, 2016, at MOCA PDC.  Photo: Brian Forest

 

 

In addition to the exhibition of her “Portraits" at the Hammer and her “O" portfolio at LACMA, Catherine Opie's installation, "700 Nimes Road" documents the six months she spent photographing objects, ephemera and clothing at the Bel Air address of the title, which happens to have been the home of Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor. Although the exterior of the residence is never depicted, Opie provides a sense of space and location through close cropped as well as wide-angle shots of the interiors. But, Opie's real focus is the more intimate moments that can be construed within the private confines of the home. A well edited selection of the 3,000 images she shot offer us a chance to contemplate not only how Opie imagined the aging star (whom Opie never encountered) interacted with her surroundings, but also the nuanced ways that Taylor decorated her home and organized her clothing. Large-scale close-up images of Taylor's jewels are seen in relation to abstract compositions of carefully arranged clothes hanging in her closet, arranged by color, as well as more documentary style photographs of shots of Taylor's personal effects and home decor. Seen together these images create are a portrait of  the private life of a very public figure (MOCA PDC, West Hollywood).

JZ