The first time I visited Japan I fell hard for the highly abstract, ritualized form of musical drama called Noh. My Japanese friends found this a little puzzling, since I couldn’t understand the dialogue, and there was no simultaneous translation such as one finds at the opera. Even they didn’t understand the arcane Japanese dialect from hundreds of years earlier. There were synopses of the plays, of course—usually just a few lines in a mimeographed program. My traveling companion and I were often the only Westerners at these performances, which were held in the late afternoon, adding to the oddness of the experience. The atmosphere was very different from the more popular Kabuki. No beer. No cheering, no talking in the house at all. Pretty soon, as the intricate rhythms and the rising and falling pitch of the atonal chanting start to work on your brain, you begin to get a feeling for the dramatic arcs. [Read more…]
Harmony of forms and symmetry are of the utmost importance in renowned New York-based, Colombian-born abstract painter Fanny Sanín’s sublime, geometric compositions currently on display at Venice Beach’s prestigious L.A. Louver Gallery. As her Los Angeles debut, this comprehensive retrospective traces this acclaimed color field artist’s prolific 50-year career as part of the collaborative Getty-led initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA which aims to highlight Latin American culture across scores of exhibitions presented by 70 of Southern California’s most prestigious museums and galleries. [Read more…]
Known for his eccentric personality, flock of famous artists he calls friends, and wildly experimental geometric paintings, Billy Al Bengston is currently the subject of a much-anticipated retrospective featuring 30 years of his beloved moon paintings at Hollywood’s trendy Various Small Fires Gallery.
Captivated by the seas of stars and luminous moonscapes he witnessed while on a motorcycle trip down the breathtaking Baja Peninsula, Bengston began capturing this incandescent starlight on canvas. He debuted his first moon painting collection at Santa Monica’s James Corcoran Gallery in 1987. The artist has since added to that original series over the years, but never before have they all been displayed together, making this exhibition an incredibly rare opportunity for fans of the artist. [Read more…]
While it has long been traditional to show artists together when they belong to the same art movement, such as fauvists or expressionists, exhibitions with fairly unrelated artists seem to be the latest rage with curators. Monet, Hodler, and Munch, who were featured in a joint exhibition at the Marmottan Monet Museum in Paris earlier this year, overlapped chronologically over one century (1840-1944), but are classified respectively with impressionism, postimpressionism and symbolism. The Musée d’Art Moderne is currently showing together Derain, a fauvist, Balthus a neoclassicist, and Giacometti, usually classified as an existentialist sculptor. The work of Mapplethorpe was recently displayed on the walls surrounding Rodin’s sculptures at the Rodin Museum. [Read more…]
“Necessity is the mother of invention” —English language proverb
“Hollywood in Havana: Five Decades of Cuban Posters Promoting U.S. Films” is a small but potent exhibit, part of Pacific Standard Time/ Los Angeles/Latin America (PST/LA/LA) at The Pasadena Museum of California Art until January 7, 2018. The posters in this exhibit were produced by The Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematograficos (ICAIC) or the Cuban film Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry from 1961-2012; all of them are silkscreened and are uniformly 29 ½ inches by 20 ¼ inches. [Read more…]
Madness grips the airwaves like a deafening transmission, and the overlords of the earth seem to speak in terrifyingly grim visions. Thank the gods that every age produces its own soothsayers. It is fitting, then, that just as a surreal state of affairs takes hold, David Lynch returned to us with Twin Peaks: The Return, a continuation of his landmark cult 1990s series that combined melodrama with the director’s brand of surrealist imaginings. But not only did Lynch return, he also shows himself to be fully in tune with these new dark ages. Episode 8 of the revival in particular goes beyond television or even cinema — it is one mad flow about our civilization’s communion with dark forces to unleash absolute destruction. [Read more…]
Pacific Standard Time/LA/LA (Los Angeles, Latin America) is the second installment of a widespread series of exhibitions sponsored by The Getty. This incarnation involves over 70 institutions (art galleries, museums, and other cultural venues) from all over Southern California, including Palm Springs, to showcase Chicano and Latino art — ancient through contemporary.
As part of PST/LA/LA, The Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art (LACMA) shows a survey of painting from the prolific and prodigiously gifted Carlos Almaraz, who died too young of AIDS in 1989. From 1973-83, Almaraz was part of a Chicano (though that term was new) Collective, called Los Four, which included Frank Romero, Gilbert Magu Lujan, and Roberto de la Rocha. They worked together, painted and sculpted many of the same images (cars, cacti, dogs, chairs, flames) as they developed a Chicano lexicon of imagery. They are all being recognized anew. Frank Romero just had an outstanding retrospective at MOLAA last spring and Gilbert Magu Lujan will have a huge retrospective (over 200 works) at UCI this fall. The fourth member, Roberto de la Rocha, unfortunately destroyed all his works, went into seclusion for 20 years and is just now rejoining the Los Angeles artistic community. [Read more…]
Simphiwe Ndzube’s Bhabharosi
at Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (through October 14, 2017)
By Lorraine Heitzman
Simphiwe Ndzube, in his bold debut at the Nicodim Gallery, has produced a personal and political tragicomedy that is an insightful commentary on the human condition. Set against the backdrop of South Africa where Ndzube was born, Bhabharosi tells the timely story of the hero’s journey that is steeped in the colors and customs of his birthplace but speaks to universal themes. His fresh perspective resonates with a vocabulary that is both witty and visually stunning. [Read more…]
American Women (dismantling the border) II (48″x60″) depicts the U.S. Mexico wall being dismantled by American Indigenous women (Comanche, Navajo, on the U.S. side; Aztec, Miztec, Mayan, on the Mexican side). Most borders which define Nation States — topics of such heated debate — were only recently built, created by Colonial conquest, and are false constructs: hastily drawn lines etching across and carving up lands inhabited for millennia by Indigenous peoples. Thus, it is the right of the Indigenous to dismantle the oppressive walls and artificial distinctions of the world: walls that slice through the heart of communities and ecosystems, the only function of which is fear based exclusion. [Read more…]
Vacation-starved New Yorkers could nonetheless repair to David Zwirner gallery this summer, on West 19th St. and view James Welling’s short film Seascape (2017). The film provides an ingratiating encounter with the storied, rock-festooned Maine coast, accompanied by an audio of accordion and taped ocean sound. There is no narration, just image, sound and elegiac music, as ocean waves endlessly and variously crash upon the rocks, the sun becomes clouded then bright again, and water and sky ever change hue. America “grew up” with landscape painting of the Romantic era, beginning effectively with Thomas Cole, and, continuing in the dramatic seascape narratives of the Maine coast by Winslow Homer. Welling’s film adds yet another iteration of aesthetic and method to this tradition [Read more…]