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:
The name Louis Bourgeois has become justly synonymous with her giant spiders and other large-scale sculptures. But there has always been another, more intimate dimension to her work. One that is beautifully explored in The Museum of Modern Art’s exquisite show of her prints and illustrated books, Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait.
This under-appreciated aspect of Bourgeois’ genius, ranging over seven decades of her long and productive life, includes 265 prints, as well as about two-dozen sculptures and a smattering of drawings and paintings. The exhibit was curated by Deborah Wye, a long-time Bourgeois friend and scholar, who was also responsible for the museum’s 1982 Bourgeois retrospective, the first that MoMa ever gave a female artist, and is now its curator emerita of prints and illustrated books. The work is striking for its delicacy and hyper-attenuation, as well as for its poignant psychological and erotic content; it makes palpable Bourgeois’ famous motto: “Art is a guaranty for sanity.” [Read more…]
by Christopher Michno
Tim Berg and Rebekah Myers work collaboratively to produce objects that are sensually appealing and refer to advertising, design, and glossy consumer products. Their work is intentionally ambiguous, mining objects for their capacity to mean different things to different people; and in this way, it operates both within a specific narrative, and as work about the nature of how we construct meaning. This Way Lies Madness (2018), their latest, a neon sign made for “Manifesto: A Moderate Proposal,” the exhibition at the Pitzer College Lenzner Family Gallery through March 29, adopts a line from King Lear. The sign reads “This Way Lies Madness Lies” and is shaped in a continuous circle. In a conversation in their Claremont studio, Myers and Berg discussed Madness, manifestos, and making objects that create space for dialog. [Read more…]
1939 | 2018
The founder of South African Jazz, an anti-apartheid activist and, as a result, a man decades in exile, Hugh Masekela pushed on into deeper waters. May the winds catch his every sail.
“Witch Doctor,” one of the greats in any genre, is below, as is “Grazing in the Grass,” “Stimela (Coal Train),” and “Mandela (Bring Him Back Home).”
Witch Doctor (2003)
In the spring of 2017, for the first time since publishing a memoir set at the height of San Francisco’s AIDS epidemic, I summoned the nerve to teach a course on memoir—which is to say, at least as I taught it, a course on the necessity of personal witness, a course against forgetting. Mostly I avoided the subject of AIDS, not wanting to be the grizzled old veteran croaking war stories to a classroom of undergraduates. But since AIDS memoirs are among the best examples of the genre, I decided I had to foray into the minefields of those memories. I surprised myself by choosing not one of several poignant memoirs but the edgy anger of Close to the Knives, by the artist David Wojnarowicz, with its hustler sex and pickup sex and anonymous sex on the decaying piers of Chelsea and amid the bleak emptiness of the Arizona desert, one eye cocked at the rearview mirror to watch for the cop who might appear and haul your naked ass to the county jail, sixty miles of rock and creosote bushes distant.* Wojnarowicz was thirty-seven years old when he died of AIDS in 1992. [Read more…]
There’s dark comedy, and then there’s Efthimis Filippou. While the former flirts with death and depravity to score bubbling belly-laughs and cheeky chortles, the latter crafts a humor so macabre it makes audiences itch, their laughs coming out more like alarmed barks or gasps. Teamed with writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos, the Greek screenwriter wrung comedy out of the repressive, incestuous family in Dogtooth, the passionless matchmaking of The Lobster, and the repulsive revenge of The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Now, he’s teamed with lesser-known director, Babis Makridis, for their co-penned Sundance entry, Pity. And it’s just as twisted–yet uncomfortably funny–as you may have hoped. [Read more…]
The paintings of Gil Cuatrecasas were exhibited at the LA Art Show 2018 last week (Jan 10-14th). His booth of large acrylics—depicting vibrant, botanical chucks of color crosshatched like Joseph Albers’ early optical studies and densely layered like white noise or confetti— will be the prelude to a major 2020 retrospective at American University Museum in Washington, D.C. [Read more…]
In the most recent season of Charlie Brooker’s excellent The Twilight Zone meets tech anthology series, Black Mirror, an entire episode is dedicated to dating: specifically the app-driven online variety favored by millennials. In “Hang The DJ,” we meet protagonists that slog through endless hours, months, and years of misery guided by an automated system that “learns” from each doomed relationship and ultimately pairs them with their “perfect match.” But an unspoken question looms throughout the episode: why? [Read more…]
Agnieszka Holland’s provocative film, Spoor, challenges preconceived notions of animal dominion, gender equality, and the excessive use of power by the ruling class. A recipient of multiple awards, including three Academy Awards nominations, Holland is a masterful director who excels at weaving powerful and conflicting themes into stories. Inspired by Olga Tokarczuk’s book, Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead, the title of the film refers to the tracks and traces left by animals, while its original title, Pokot, is a hunting expression referring to the count of animals killed after the hunt. [Read more…]
The two samples below are enough to show Frank’s savage (and hysterical!) brilliance, but if you need further proof, or merely more of Joe Frank’s wonderous vision, go to joefrank.com and listen to virtually his entire career. Below, Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin & Mao speak of tailors, floral arrangements, paint colors and books while the lesser-breeds, those less brilliant and accomplished — the pikey-lot of Gary Gilmore, Jeffrey Dahmer, JW Gacy, T-Bone Bundy and Charlie Manson sit with party hats at a nearby children’s table, wordless, inconsequential, shunned. In the second clip, a preacher speaks in Old Nick’s tongue:
“No More my Lord,” from Bad Karma (2000).
“Telephone Prayer,” a clip from Joe Frank’s Men of the Cloth (2001).
A pencil is a little wonder-wand: a stick of wood that traces the tiniest motions of your hand as it moves across a surface. I am using one now, making weird little loops and slashes to write these words. As a tool, it is admirably sensitive. The lines it makes can be fat or thin, screams or whispers, blocks of concrete or blades of grass, all depending on changes of pressure so subtle that we would hardly notice them in any other context. (The difference in force between a bold line and nothing at all would hardly tip a domino.) And while a pencil is sophisticated enough to track every gradation of the human hand, it is also simple enough for a toddler to use. [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…]
Hunter of Stories
by Eduador Galeano
Nation Books, 272pp. $26.
Eduardo Galeano taught me where my parents came from. Always more historian than novelist, or commentator as chronicler, the Uruguayan maestro’s work was one whole mosaic framing the Latin American experience from conquest to capitalist modernism. Galeano, who shed his mortal coil in 2015, was the modern artist of the vignette, telling history in snapshots. I first read him as a young student when a mentor recommended his classic Open Veins of Latin America, an eloquent history of the economic and social history of the region, told with a journalist’s precision and novelist’s sense of language. The late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez famously gave a copy of the book to Barack Obama during a summit in 2009, and I still sadly suspect that Obama didn’t bother to read it. [Read more…]
Other animals use tools, but as far as I know, we’re the only ones to make paintbrushes. Painting is a physical thing, like sports or ballet. There are important exceptions, of course, like Wade Guyton and his followers, who use computers, scanners, and inkjet printers to make paintings, but for anyone not placing a heavy bet on digital tech, how one grips the brush matters, as does each finely calibrated aspect in the chain of command from brain to canvas: the size and shape of the brush, the viscosity of the paint, and the pressure exerted by the shoulder-arm-hand continuum, its direction and velocity. That’s what painting is on a physical level: brush hitting canvas. It’s been going on for a long time because the way it links perception with action intersects with something elemental about humans. Painting is no more passé than drumming or, for that matter, pole-vaulting, which is not to say that we all need to do it, or can. [Read more…]