Let’s be honest—contemporary art, especially anything of the minimalist or conceptual variety, can be elusive and sometimes even downright mystifying to the general public. While those with Art History degrees or a passion for the subject may appreciate these artistic movements due to an understanding of their respective historical contexts and goals, those without may be left feeling perplexed and perturbed. Indeed, these styles can look a bit stark and do feature highly unusual presentations of everyday objects. In response, the casual viewer may begin to claim that they could have made something similar or joke that one of the museum’s fire exit signs was particularly thought-provoking. In the Hammer Museum’s current headline-grabbing exhibition, Stories of Almost Everyone, we see this collegiate institution leaning into the joke while simultaneously addressing critical issues of artistic interpretation. [Read more…]
What mystical visions and artistic insights can dancing an hour per day provide? For Nathan Hayden, a West Virginia-born, Santa Barbara-based psychedelic multimedia artist, this transcendental practice inspires the mind-bending imagery behind his abstracted landscapes, biomorphic ceramic sculptures, and hallucinatory wall murals. [Read more…]
at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles (Through May 20, 2018) Reviewed by Emily Nimptsch
“My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama.” ㅡLouise Bourgeois, 1998
Produced in the last three years of her life, the effervescent bubble and flower doodles, rudimentary abstract patterns, and scrawled, Cy Twombly-like swirls currently lining the walls of Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles, in Louise Bourgeois: Red Sky may seem like this renowned French-American painter, sculptor, and printmaker’s innocent, joy-filled ruminations on childhood, however, a closer look reveals a world of anguish and anxiety. [Read more…]
How do you modernize modern abstract painting? If you are beloved Los Angeles-based painter and collage artist Mark Bradford, you build thick, impasto-inspired canvas surfaces with ten to fifteen layers of paper in the form of attention-grabbing advertisements, photographs, newsprint, magazines, posters, and comic book panels. Shellacked with glue and lacquer, you dry them in the sun, bleach them, and sand them down, partially exposing the forgotten strata below. With Bradford’s wildly inventive, semi-geological paintings, the viewer acts as an archaeologist from some distant future excavating the remains of our modern society. Also acting as socio-political city maps and diagrams of the human body, this MacArthur Fellow’s masterful large-scale fusions of Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, and Street art allow the audience to consider issues of LGBTQ rights, the AIDS epidemic, and systemic racism through the lens of both the micro and the macro. [Read more…]
at the Broad, Los Angeles (through March 13, 2018)
Reviewed by Emily Nimptsch
My work is largely concerned with relations between seeing and knowing, seeing and saying, seeing and believing. Preconceptions which are sort of “knowing” may be placed in doubt or may be affirmed by seeing. 一 Jasper Johns, 1965
In a sudden moment of creative clarity and focus, Jasper Johns awoke from a dream in 1954 with a vision of the American flag dancing around in his head. The then-emerging New York-based multimedia artist knew immediately that he had to paint it. Not having the money for a new canvas, he simply used some old bedsheets instead. Little did Johns know at the time that he was creating an image that would elevate him to the upper echelons of artistic fame and forever alter the course of art history.
Now sixty-four years later, the Broad Museum, the mecca for all things modern art in Los Angeles, is looking back on this celebrated artist’s momentous collection of flag paintings in concert with his later number, target, and map works. Consisting of over 120 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints, including many that have never displayed in the city before, this extensive and historically significant collaboration between the Broad and London’s Royal Academy explores Johns’s oeuvre thematically rather than chronologically. This curatorial choice allows the viewer to see works of different eras on the same wall and make unexpected, eye-opening connections. [Read more…]
With its twinkling city lights in the distance, seductive glow of the illuminated swimming pool below, and sumptuous sheen of the satin nightgown worn by the seated woman in the foreground, the painting Tinseltown (2017) and all of the other works on display in Sunset — the debut exhibition from London-based figurative painter Caroline Walker’s at Anat Ebgi — delight the eye and highlight the lavish lifestyle of a chic, mature woman living in the Hollywood Hills. Through the twelve oil paintings and works on paper displayed here, she is depicted lounging in the pool, trying on clothes and brunching at the famed Beverly Hills Hotel. Although this David Hockney-esque realm of fantastical wealth and luxury is enviable, one cannot help but feel a twinge of sadness hanging in the air. Perhaps this melancholy stems from the fact that she is all alone. Ultimately, Sunset takes the viewer on a tour of the most glamourous haunts of Hollywood’s rich and famous while simultaneously revealing this woman’s most private thoughts and desires. [Read more…]
at Regen Projects Los Angeles (Through February 17, 2018)
Reviewed by Emily Nimptsch
Bursting onto the Los Angeles art scene in the early 1990s with her enthralling and empathetic portraits of the LGBTQIA community, internationally acclaimed Ohio-born photographer Catherine Opie is currently setting the city ablaze again with the release of The Modernist, her haunting and provocative debut film project at Hollywood’s Regen Projects.
In the middle of the gallery floor, guests will find a sleek and reflective box-like structure. Built by Los Angeles-based architect Michael Maltzan, a Los Angeles-based architect known for his work on Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Building, the Sixth Street Viaduct, and Regen Projects itself, this highly futuristic form houses the film projector and some seating while complimenting the film’s space age aesthetic. Lining the walls of the gallery, visitors will also find 33 photographs highlighting significant moments in the film. [Read more…]
Offering a feminist perspective on the divine, art historical tradition, as well as widespread issues currently plaguing our planet, including climate change, consumer waste, terrorism, and the downsides of technology, The Feminine Sublime, currently on view at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, highlights the socially and politically charged work of five prominent Los Angeles-based female painters Merion Estes, Yvette Gellis, Virginia Katz, Constance Mallinson, and Marie Thibeault. [Read more…]
Marty Schnapf: Fissures in the Fold
At Wilding Cran Gallery Los Angeles (Through March 10, 2018)
Reviewed by Emily Nimptsch
Multi-layered in both the composition and psychology, Los Angeles-based multimedia artist Marty Schnapf’s latest historically inspired yet wildly inventive oil and charcoal paintings, currently on view at LA’s Wilding Cran Gallery, dive into themes of the subconscious while boasting extensive allusions to parallel realities, Abstract Expressionism, as well as Pablo Picasso’s celebrated cubist period.
Titled Fissures in the Fold, this series heavily features contorted nude figures. With the twisted, angular poses and ubiquitous stray arms and legs seen here, the human body is deconstructed and the viewer is often left unsure about which limbs belong to which figure. [Read more…]
What does a world without men look like? Celebrated Pasadena-born, New York-based figurative painter Judith Linhares’s current exhibition at Hollywood’s prestigious Various Small Fires aids the viewer in imagining this feminist utopia through a wide array of sumptuous female nudes lounging in lush landscapes, communing with nature, and performing a range of daily tasks. Perhaps a vision of a mythical, Amazonian-inspired tribe of women or an era after men, The Way She Goes to Town reveals social order and harmony without gender roles. Here, women seem to be entirely comfortable in their bodies, in nature, in leisure, as well as in their duties. Although the subjects depicted here are nude, they are not sexualized; rather, they are joyful and peaceful in their natural state. [Read more…]
Bathed in sumptuous yet disorientating shades of midnight blue, periwinkle, and canary yellow light, Los Angeles-based figurative painter Matt Lifson’s latest mural-sized works currently displayed in the CB1 Gallery exhibition How is your fever? reveal how color, mystery, nostalgia, and tone can influence the way an audience views a piece. As this Long Island-native’s first solo showing at the downtown Los Angeles gallery, the seemingly commonplace images seen here feature an ominous energy, forcing the viewer to play detective and piece together Lifson’s cryptic narratives. [Read more…]
Renowned for her searing portraits of corruption, complicity, greed, and inequality in modern society, celebrated Joshua Tree-based painter Georganne Deen further explores this ubiquitous elitism and immorality in her latest collection of haunting figurative paintings, Georganne Deen: Psychic Violence in America, currently on view at CB1 Gallery in downtown Los Angeles. [Read more…]
Hailing from the picturesque seaside town of Les Cayes, Haiti, conceptual painter Andy Robert has built a career on exploring notions of community. As a graduate of the prestigious Whitney Independent Study Studio Program, this assemblage and found object artist has depicted the human side of such monumental and important issues as the Flint Water crisis and poverty in exhibitions past. His latest series, Lakou: One Two Five currently on display at one of Hollywood’s avant-garde art meccas, Hannah Hoffman Gallery, this poignant collection delves into the ideas of heritage, society, and place. These intimate, heartfelt cityscapes and portraits connect the viewer to the Caribbean and its culture, people, and its tragic history. [Read more…]
As a legendary and enduring figure on the international art stage, Louisiana-born conceptual sculptor Lynda Benglis is renowned for crafting pained yet sensual anthropomorphic works out of melted bronze, latex, ceramics, polyurethane, and glass. Bursting into the public consciousness with her transgressive, fearless, and unforgettable nude advertisement in Artforum (the magazine refused to give her editorial space for the image) in 1974, the artist garnered much public praise and shock for posing with a dildo between her legs in order to subvert the male gaze, binary gender roles, and notions of bodily objectification. After decades of consistently producing arresting and audacious sculptures with themes of sexuality and mortality, Benglis is once again in the public eye with her current solo retrospective at Culver City’s prestigious Blum & Poe. [Read more…]
As a meditation on the flexible nature of time and an ode to the objet trouvé readymades of French-born Dadaist Marcel Duchamp, Argentinian conceptual installation artist Adrián Villar Rojas’s current showing at Little Tokyo’s Geffen Contemporary at MOCA offers frozen cases of preserved organic and manmade materials, as well as layered, almost geological or landfill-like gallery floors infused with packed dirt, multicolored concrete, clay, old tennis shoes, and fruit peels. These modern and seemingly ancient items reveal Adrián Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance be an excavation of sorts, or even perhaps a burial. [Read more…]
Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin & Peter Hujar
At Matthew Marks, Los Angeles (Through December 22, 2017)
Reviewed by Emily Nimptsch
As three supremely unconventional 20th century portrait photographers, Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, and Peter Hujar are currently the subjects of an exhaustive, evocative and eponymous retrospective at Matthew Marks, Los Angeles.
With twenty-two poignant prints spanning sixty years proudly on display here, the viewer can detect the overwhelming similarities and differences between these widely adored artists. Although all three chose the same medium and subject, each photographer approached the human form and spirit in a completely unique manner. [Read more…]
Ellen Gallagher: Accidental Records At Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles (Through January 28, 2018) Reviewed by Emily Nimptsch
Expanding upon her seminal DeLuxe series (2004–05) as well as her intricately drawn Watery Ecstatic series (2001-2009), Rhode Island-born, Brooklyn and Rotterdam-based mixed-media artist and minimalist painter Ellen Gallagher’s newly opened exhibition, Ellen Gallagher: Accidental Records is currently making waves at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles, with her exploration of maritime themes. [Read more…]
My desire was to predict and measure the infinity of the unbound universe, from my own position in it, with dots.
Stitching together six of eccentric Japanese conceptual artist Yayoi Kusama’s signature infinity mirror chambers as well a meticulously curated selection of paintings, historical photographs, posters, and videos documenting her prolific sixty-year career, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, currently on display at downtown Los Angeles’ celebrated Broad Museum, celebrates Kusama’s vibrant maximalist style. This visiting special exhibition is surprisingly the first comprehensive museum survey highlighting the artist’s beloved infinity mirror rooms. So far, these shed-sized chambers filled with immersive lights and mirrors have garnered much attention in the city, sparking 90,000 advance tickets to sell out in mere hours. Due to lengthy lineups, guests are limited to 30 seconds inside each room. [Read more…]
Oozing avant-garde, post-industrial gravitas, Hauser & Wirth’s ultra-trendy Los Angeles Arts District location is currently housing Mike Kelley: Kandors 1999 – 2011, an exhaustive survey of internationally-renowned late sculpture and performance artist Mike Kelley’s rarely-seen Kandors. These miniature cityscapes encased in variously-colored glass bell jars offer a truly unique and poignant emotional viewing experience, revealing how it would feel to be a superhuman, omnipotent being gazing upon a civilization below. Exploring themes of memory, loneliness and desperation, Kelley’s titular Kandors are inspired by legendary comic book hero Superman’s home city of Kandor on the planet Krypton. [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…]