Consistently miles ahead of the curve, the uber-feminist Judy Chicago has been so prescient that it has, at various key moments, worked against her. It sometimes seemed—and certainly must have felt—that despite presaging much of our current predicament, she was, unfortunately, pissing into the wind for entirely different reasons than the super-hero-sized malevolent male in her series, PowerPlay: A Prediction, shown at Salon 94. This evil-looking, nearly headless giant boasts a six-pack and a relatively small member, which he sprays like a brainless hose, heedlessly poisoning the hills and valleys of our planet. The painting, done in 1984, is called, appropriately enough, Pissing on Nature. [Read more…]
Life? or Theatre?
by Charlotte Salomon
Overlook Duckworth, 815 pp., $150.00
Charlotte Salomon: Life? or Theatre?: A Selection of 450 Gouaches
Taschen, 599 pp., $35.00
A woman walks down the red stairs of a tall roofless building. Her dress is almost black. Her hair is pulled back, her arms crossed against the cold, her face melancholy. She walks past denuded trees up a darkened street, curves into another, and another. The wind seems to be propelling her, tugging at her, so that at one point her hair tumbles free, her dress whirls. Lamplight turns pavement and road a stormy sea blue. As she comes closer her path is outlined in blood red, until red takes her over to transform her into a drowning figure in a blackened lake. [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…]
Judith Bernstein’s work has always been brazenly in-your-face. In the early-to-mid 1970s the self-styled “proto-feminist” was best-known for her huge charcoal drawings of hairy, phallic screws, one of which was censored from a museum show in Philadelphia in 1974, despite a petition signed by Louise Bourgeois and John Coplans. A co-founder of the alternative gallery, A.I.R., which showed only female artists, she more or less disappeared from the art world until 2012, when the New Museum featured “Hard,” a show of her large-scale work, including a 66-foot long mural painted directly onto its lobby windows, followed by two shows at Mary Boone in 2015 and 2016. [Read more…]
Of the three artists currently showing at Hauser & Wirth it is fair to assume that Geta Brătescu, the 92 year-old Romanian Conceptualist, is the least familiar to American audiences. Though her work has neither the heady bombast of Mark Bradford’s paintings nor the sinewy lyricism of Louise Bourgeois’ work, Brătescu brings her curiosity and playfulness to an encyclopedic body of work that spans seven decades. Her drawings, films, performances, animations, collages, and sculptures defy a single descriptor as they are based on her wide-ranging visual and literary interests and vary according to the medium but what Brătescu seeks to address in all of her work is the idea of transformation and multiplicity, especially in relationship to the role of the artist. While the exhibit will undoubtedly invite comparisons to Louise Bourgeois’ work because they were both active at the same time and because each gained recognition in a male dominated field, they have very different sensibilities. Where Bourgeois is so poetically expressive about her interior life through paintings, text and sculptures, Brătescu chooses conceptual and experimental genres to create imaginative narratives, her literary references and studio almost always present. Hauser & Wirth provides an opportunity to contrast both artists while introducing a new voice, albeit one that has flourished outside of our orbit for some time. [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…]
Discovering Rico Lebrun in Mexico at Jack Rutberg Fine Arts is a thrilling experience in the way that the best introductions are: eye-opening and ultimately rewarding. At the same time it is a little confounding too because the work is unfamiliar and it shouldn’t be. These are large paintings of tremendous, muscular force that are as passionate as they are perfectly constructed. That the work was made over sixty years ago and largely overlooked is bewildering. To paraphrase Jack Rutberg, “Only in L.A.” [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…]
Debra Scacco’s The Narrows is a timely show at Klowden Mann that uses multimedia art to examine the changing immigrant experience and liminal spaces found, created, and realized on the journey to the United States.
Scacco researched this project in the Ellis Island archives, beginning with a residency there in 2012, as she began tying her own personal connections between her family’s Italian immigration story to the larger historical narrative. With her art, she questions the immigration process, the changing roles of race, whiteness, and ethnicity, and the ever-present linimality presented in traversing borders and nationalities. [Read more…]
The year has begun with the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists — those rational soothsayers of the global landscape — moving their infamous Doomsday Clock closer to midnight by thirty seconds. As it stands according to the clock, we are but two minutes away from cataclysm. If we are to approach it in messianic terms, we are living two minutes away from apocalypse. Desolation now haunts our daydreams and nightmares, even if the Doomsday Clock adjustment goes unnoticed by the wider populace still marching to the rhythm of a modern world. But the sense of upcoming cataclysm seeps into our pop consciousness, as personified by the sudden rise of dystopian television, young adult and adult fiction, and the return to political discourse of words associated with futuristic struggle (#resistance). [Read more…]
Tony DeLap: A Career Survey, 1963 – 2016, the bi-coastal double-venue exhibition at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, Los Angeles, through December, and Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York, through January, sampled the artist’s refined material treatments, quirky geometries and subversive edge-to-canvas relationships. DeLap’s category defying work intersected with a number of significant movements, including hard-edge abstraction, minimalism and finish fetish. His upcoming retrospective at the Laguna Art Museum (Tony DeLap: A Retrospective, February 25 – May 28, 2018) will exhibit 80 of his works and offer a comprehensive look at his five decades of art practice. In a recent studio visit, DeLap discussed his early career in the Bay Area, his subsequent move to Southern California, and his art. [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…]
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, and BRIC House, Brooklyn
Reviewed by Ellen C. Caldwell
In Bone-Grass Boy: The Secret Banks of the Conejos River, Ken Gonzales-Day brings his ongoing inquiry of erasure, history, and the history-making process itself full circle. First shown in 1993-96, the updated Bone-Grass Boy made its debut at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles in 2017 and now shows at BRIC House in Brooklyn, NY as part of Reenactment, a group show curated by Jenny Gerow. This updated version of Bone-Grass Boy features Gonzales-Day’s original show, with the addition of new work, reflections, and introductions. [Read more…]
Louise Bourgeois demonstrates the peeling of a party tangerine, which no less becomes a commentary on her father’s “detestable” humor and a likely point of awakening of her lifelong feminism: