alifornia C ContemporaryART Summer 2011
LĂŚrke Lauta, Out of the Desert, 2011, stills from video. See page 27.
JEAN LOWE “LOOK 20 YEARS YOUNGER”
2525 Michigan Ave B4 Santa Monica, CA 90404 | 310-828-8488 |
May 28 - July 2, 2011
| email@example.com | www.rosamundfelsen.com
Matthew Anthony Stokes, “Stork,” 14 x 26", acrylic and ink on cardboard, 2011
2903 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Gallery Hours: Tue–Sat, 11am – 5pm or by appointment
skotia gallery ne w loc ation | c ulv er c ity | july 2 0 1 1
g r a nd o p e ning sa tur d ay| nov em ber fifth | six to nine pm 6 1 4 4 w a s h i n g t o n b o u l e v a r d , c u l v e r c i t y, c a 3 1 0 . 8 3 8 . 1 7 1 7 s k o t i a g a l l e r y. c o m daniel sprick | bird and mirror | oil on panel
CONTENTS SUMMER 2011
A Q&A with Adam Krueger Tali Wertheimer
Cheryl Ekstrom: A Review
The Fine Science of Hard Art Brent Turner
Painting Light’s Reflection
Art Takes On Man and Nature Maryan Parsi
Exhibitions Zhang Huan HK Zamani Lærke Lauta Terry Thompson "Post 9/11" Brendan Lott Arron Sturgeon Mary Koneff
Elliot Wilcox Laura Parker Anthony Lepore Chad Attie Lesley Vance Andrew Guenther "TOPO/GRAPHY" and more....
PUBLISHER Richard Kalisher EDITOR Donovan Stanley DESIGN Eric Kalisher CONTRIBUTORS Roberta Carasso Julie R. Novakoff Maryan Parsi Brent Trurner
alifornia C ContemporaryART www.californiacontemporaryart.net (323) 380-8916 | firstname.lastname@example.org
July 9 â€“ August 20, 2011 Reception: Saturday, July 9, 5 - 8 p.m.
The Haunted Word curated by John Souza York Chang Kip Fulbeck Norm Laich Joseph Lee Suzanne Oshinsky Carter Potter Evelyn Serrano
207 W. 5th Street Los Angeles, CA 90013 www.cb1gallery.com 213-806-7889 email@example.com Gallery Hours: Wednesday - Sunday, noon - 6 p.m.
Painting. Design. Speculation. Generosity. curated by Alexander Kroll Dan Callis Matthew Carter Roy Dowell Mark Dutcher Christine Frerichs Lauren Luloff Renee Petropoulos Craig Taylor
Ten Questions for Adam Krueger Tali Wertheimer work, emotions bleed together into a complex system of approximate truths. When I approach one of his canvases, I have the same sensation of trying and failing to rub my belly and tap my head at the same time. I see the fragmented sections of the figure and fill in the gaps — the highlights in the hair, creases in the neck, muscle in the arm — so that I become an artist myself in process. I am partially responsible for the work. At the same time I am filling in what may be some obscured crime scene. I’ve helped complete a crime; I am an accessory after the fact. The elation at being involved in the process of art-making is proximal to the guilt of being involved in one of Krueger’s scenes — my pride and embarrassment are side by side and at odds — and for me this is where the emotional complexity of his art originates. TW: Why do you use fragmented space?
Adam Krueger is a New York-based
artist who has achieved insider success with exhibitions at Deitch Projects, David Zwirner, and Coleman Burke Gallery, just to name a few. For his first exhibition in Los Angeles, at Carmichael Gallery in Culver City, we curated a room of black and white paintings, drawings, and installations. This is a departure from the boisterous use of color seen in seminal works such as Fly in Ointment and Small Wonder. What remains the same is Kruger’s use of negative space. As with the works above, the artist tears away fragments from the canvas, allowing the viewer to fill in the missing sections from his or her own imagination. The fragments are bait, meant to lure you into his comedic yet possibly sinister world of nude women engaging in bi-
10 C|C|A Summer 2011
zarre games with household objects, often in impossible contortions By filling in the gaps of these paintings, you are in effect the artist as well, you have helped make the image. This can leave you feeling partially responsible for the narrative content represented therein. At the same time its hopelessly exciting being apart of the artistic process. The complexity of the the dissonant emotional experiences — happiness and guilt — is part of the power of Adam’s work. If you try to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time, well its almost impossible. Everyone has tried and failed in grade school. One action bleeds into another. The proximity of actions causes the brain to group them together. Same is true of the proximity of feelings caused by viewing Krueger’s
AK: I feel that artists sometimes don’t give their audience enough credit. The viewers aren’t stupid by any means, so not everything needs to be spelled out for them. There is no fun if everything is explained and given to you, then there is no room for the ecstasy one gets from wonderment and confusion. It can be linked to voyeurism. It is more exciting when you see a woman in a window behind semi-open blinds, because you get to imagine what you are missing and it sparks mystery and you crave to see what you cant, just like a striptease. TW: What excites you about showing on the west coast? AK: It’s a new audience for my work; that’s why I am extremely excited with the opportunities that are coming up with the different exhibitions in Cali-
fornia. Also, I became very titillated when I heard a potentially true rumor that there are movie stars out in LA , meaning some gorgeous famous young lady may see my work, love it, and become infatuated with me, instantaneously resulting in an elaborate wedding with no prenuptial agreement, therefore allowing me to just focus on creating and not think about NYC rent. TW: Do you think it will be different than showing on the east coast? AK: I know that most people associate LA with color and sparkle, and NY with dry and dreary, but I don’t want to play into that reputation. I feel that people who look at and experience art come in with an open mind, with no expectations, and are prepared to be challenged, no matter what coast you are on. I feel my work speaks to lovers of the tagged terms, “east coast art” as well as “west coast art”. My work is grounded in tradition with a focus on the personal and conceptual elements I include, which people associate with east coast. The playful side — the fact that I cut out the paintings and install them onto the wall like a graffiti mural — speaks to what people tie in with West Coast art.
TW: What draws you to black and white? AK: I would say that I normally approach a piece thinking of producing it in color, but there are just some concepts that I feel work better in black and white. It depends on the mood that I want to set up. Color reflects reality, even if it is non natural coloring; it is still more within our world, whereas I feel that black and white images relate more to memories and thoughts. The absence of color makes us concentrate on a still image, a moment in time. TW: How did you come upon to using black and white to signify a moment in time? AK: I relate black and white to the origin of film and photography and the idea of documenting a memory, before color was introduced to these mediums, which gives it a sense of history and something aged. We all know we associate different colors with specific moods and ideas, but we do the same with black, white, and grey. I feel that the reason why black and white images signify a break from action is because of our relationships to the colors. Ultimately they signify loneliness, black representing death, and white being sterile representing isolation.
(clockwise from far left) Small Wonder, 2009, watercolor and oil on canvas, cut out and mounted to PVC plastic, arranged directly to wall; Fly in Ointment, 2008, oil on canvas, cut out and mounted to PVC plastic, arranged directly to wall; detail from Just Like I Remember, 2007, oil and watercolor on canvas, broken glass, installed on ground; Original Premium, 2009, oil on canvas mounted to PVC plastic and arranged to a black wall. Images are provided courtesy of the artist.
TW: Do you agree that your work has an element of the circus? AK: Yes, I enjoy going to the circus as well as carnivals. They have clowns, toys, little people, games, side shows, freaks of nature, ultimately creating a creepy yet fun atmosphere. I try to capture elements of these experiences and filter them into my work. With my colorful pieces, it may be more in your face than it is playful and strange because of the exaggerated color palette. But the black and white pieces are just as unnatural; it just may seam that the oddness is toned down because the associations we have with color as opposed to images in black and white. TW: In My Mattress, is the invisible figure alone? Feature
(from left) Audience, 2010, oil on canvas mounted to pvc plastic, toy monkeys; My Mattress, 2007, oil on canvas mounted to pvc plastic, spray paint.
AK: That is totally up for interpretation, and the piece actually evolved into this idea being the main focus, this uncertainty, and wanting to leave it open to the viewer and hopefully have them answer that question. Is someone behind her and forcing her legs to be so unnaturally and uncomfortably spread or is she doing it to herself as a self destructive pleasure...? Have we caught this figure in an awkward masturbatory moment, or are we witnessing a semi-hesitant and possible non-consensual act, or is it kinky foreplay...? TW: My Mattress is one of many works where you create a mystery as to whether the central figure is alone or with others. This reminds me of Milan Kundera’s book, The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, What do you see as the benefits of company? Of being with others? What are the dangers? AK: Think of it in terms of getting off. If you asked ten people whether they prefer sex with a partner or masturbation, I guarantee all of their initial responses would be fornication. You feel warmth, you feel wanted or at least accepted when having “company”. But what if the person is really terrible in
12 C|C|A Summer 2011
bed, maybe causing unwanted pain? What if you start to become paranoid, possibly about your performance and not wanting to be judged for your sexual facial expressions or movements, or hoping that they don’t discover some personal secret that could surface from this interaction. You start to realize that maybe you could be happier alone, where there is no possibility of criticism, where you know what makes you content, and no chance of getting harmed. Sure, the pulsating partner may ultimately feel better because it is a change from the normal hand or toy, but in the end that hand or toy is safer ... although a bit more gloomy. I am into ineffectual actions of self display, figures performing and wanting to be seen while at the same time trying to hide themselves even though at times these actions may be self destructive. TW: What attracts you to quotidian objects, like Saran wrap, a box of crackers, wonderbread, and plastic baggies? AK: I am interested in everyday, common objects, but I like taking them away from their delegated uses and meanings while finding a metaphorical use for them. Crackers are usually bland and only part of a food pairing, maybe a base for cheese or a textured addition to a bowl of soup. People have their own associations and experiences with crackers, but the word cracker can stand for many things. This word has other associations even reaching to the world of derogatory racial ter-
minology. Our associations with objects and the thoughts that materialize when we hear the name of a particular item have been sculpted from our past experiences. Growing up, I remember my mother carefully wrapping the leftovers from the scrumptious family dinner, or shielding a plate of homemade Christmas cookies using Saran wrap. I try to take my memories of everyday objects and re-appropriate them to fit my interests as an artist. With my work, I try taking an object or two, and combine them with a word, masturbation, which stems from the Latin manu stuprare, meaning “to defile with the hand”. It can be a metaphor for self-love and narcissism, while simultaneously representing loneliness and insecurity. TW: We have spoken in the past about your use of the central female character as a stand-in for yourself, can you explain this? AK: In an effort to deal with my social anxiety, I distance myself from each work, doing so self-consciously via the female form. I do this to maintain a degree of emotional anonymity in a judgmental world, while allowing the viewer to relate to the universal nature of the subjects. Defensively, while yearning to perform, my “stand-ins” must be cut out in order to blend into their environment. See page 21 for a preview of the show at Carmichael Gallery. Follow Tali Wertheimer on Twitter: @tsplusprojects
VENICE , C ALI FORNIA L A LOU V E R . C OM
Tom Wudl Immensities and Infinities: Further Specimens, From the Flowerbank World,
Enrique Martínez Celaya Wormwood 2 June — 9 July 2011
VENICE , C ALI FORNIA L A LOU V E R . C OM
The Fine Science Of Hard Art by Brent Turner
Vincent Sabella’s paintings at the USC Institute for Genetic Medicine Art Gallery (IGMAG) reveal a regimen of trial, torment and triumph over childhood schizophrenia. They also spark a dialogue about art and mental illness in an active research setting. Exhibitions at the USC IGMAG are, as Director Lynn Crandall says, “designed to inspire discussion and raise questions.” This couldn’t be more the case with the current collection now showing at the institute. Vincent Sabella and his seemingly innocent rendition of teddy bears on canvas, appropriately titled Bear on a Hot Tin Roof, reveal to the closer observer a darker tale of emotional distress from a childhood haunted by visions and taunting voices. Sabella suffered from childhood schizophrenia, an illness that remained undiagnosed until a suicide attempt at the age of 17 caused him to be briefly institutionalized and ultimately diagnosed with the illness. Sabella, now 30, brought the symptoms of his illness under control with the help of a combination of medications, but the troubling childhood memories remain. Now he puts them to use as he explores his unresolved emotions through this 29-piece collection, eleven of which are currently on display at the IGMAG. Although artistically inclined from an early age, Sabella does not attribute his ability as an artist to his mental illness. He uses it as a source of inspiration for his work. The text and related titles in each individual painting tell a stand-alone story, while the complete series tells an integrated, larger story. A number of devices, including these textual dialogues — internal and external, an array of painting technique,
14 C|C|A Summer 2011
from representation to action abstraction — keep the work teetering between composed and chaotic. Sabella’s battle with schizophrenia and his expression on the canvas make this body of work a perfect fit for dialogues around the intersection of art, science and social order that are conducted daily at the IGMAG. The insitute is an “art in the workplace” organization that also provides K-12 and continuing education programs, events and symposia. Scientists have long studied the link between creativity and mental illness. The lines between the two are still often blurred. Studies suggest that creative people often share more personality traits with the mentally ill than people in less creative pursuits. This connection makes Bear on a Hot Tin Roof a hot topic for
open-minded, exploratory discussion. Vincent first exhibited Bear on a Hot Tin Roof in its entirety at The Happening Gallery in Marina Del Rey in June 2011. Gallery Director Natalie Gray explains what originally drew her to the work: “there are few artists that paint from such a deep place that their work truly resonates with their story. To see these works and take in their contradicting layers of both innocence and maturity, is to start to scratch the surface of the story of Vincent Sabella.” A tightly curated selection of paintings from Bear on a Hot Tin Roof will be on display at the IGMAG from July 8 through October 28, 2011. Five of Sabella’s works also remain on view at The Happening Gallery until July 17, 2011.
1431 Ocean Avenue Santa Monica, CA 90401 310.451.9983 www.bgartdealings.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel-Sighted An Exhibit of Touchable Art
Thurs., 8.18.2011, 6-10pm Sat., 9.3.2011, 6-10pm 8.18-9.3.2011
Thurs., 9.1.2011, 6-11pm Artists Include: Sylvia Cooper, Airom Michael Chearney, Nancy Larrew Alisa Gabrielle and Jaime Becker
FINDING A BALANCE BETWEEN MAN AND NATURE by Maryam Parsi
The all-to-familiar question of
man’s relationship to nature has seemingly been exhausted, and yet we continue to ask and presume to define it. The obvious reality of the matter is that there is no single answer or opinion. There is the Euro-centric belief that maintains man is superior to his environment; the natural world is only of secondary importance, supplying for man the tools for his existence. In a
dissimilar vein, Native American cultures consider there to be no division between man and nature, a worldview they believe helps to maintain the existence of global harmony. This variety in opinion is symbolic of, and subjective to, time and space. Evidence of this is visible in the fact that throughout history, nature has been a prominent, yet continually evolving, subject matter for the arts. Many contemporary
artists throughout the art world have sought to understand mankind’s complex relationship with nature. In this article, I look at examples of such work. As a global community we reflect human evolution; therefore, we cannot ignore the developments that have paved the way for our advancement. The Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero eloquently conveyed this thought when he declared, “To be igBright Ugochukwu Eke. Acid Rain,2005-2009, Copenhagen
norant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child." In this respect, we can not deny the fact that the rise of the Industrial Revolution and the resultant technological advancements have not only raised our standard of living, made our daily lives more convenient, and helped to unlock many scientific mysteries of the past; yet, these advancements have also led our civilization down a path towards the inevitable collapse of the global ecosystem. Now more than ever, mankind is becoming fully aware of the ramifications of its previous choices, and never has there existed a time where the desire to change has been more prominent in the collective conscience of the population. As Brazilian artist Nelé Azevedo states, “The disappearance of biodiversity, the finite natures of energy resources, and the threat of climate change are all concerns that are deeply permeated in the perception of the public.” The reality of this state of emergency is also communicated in the work of numerous artists around the globe. In Acid Rain (see opposite page) and Heavy Clouds, installations by Nigerian born artist Bright Ugochukwu Eke consisting of hundreds of suspended cellophane bags filled with water and carbon, the artist reflects on surrounding environmental issues and the interconnectedness of humans and nature; the artist uses water as the focus of these installations as a constant reminder of the universal source of life. Eke reveals that his body of work was greatly informed by his contact with toxic rain in southern Nigeria, where “the ubiquity of foreign oil corporations has resulted in serious pollution, and ethnic
and political unrest.” Eke emphasizes the notion that man has certainly created a division between himself and his environment, a thought that the artist considers “self-deceit”. This system of thinking suggests that most people in today’s culture only consider the specific history of their own lives and draw almost all of their perspective on that particular account; however, if we, on a large cultural level, continue to avoid the realities that exist outside of our own lives, how can we instinctively make decisions that would affect the future of humanity? In essence mankind would simply op-
erate in a reactionary manner, as opposed to thinking preventatively. The precursors of the most recent incarnations of this debate were the artists who initiated the Land Art movement that emerged in the United States in the 1960s and ‘70s. Many artists working during this time felt perpetually trapped by what had become the necessary relationship between art and commerce, protesting against the increasing production of art they perceived as artificial aesthetics; art that places form over content, and thus interchangeably, lacks moral consciousness. These constraints not only diminished the capacity of their artistic creativity but also served to marginalize their status in society. To
Nele Azevedo, Minimum Monument, National Congress, Brazil
forge their own path, artists like Michael Heizer, Robert Smithson, Walter de Maria, and Richard Serra looked back to one of the earliest iterations of art [--] art where nature formed the canvas for their interventions. Clearly departing from modern art making techniques, these artists often created works that underscored the danger to the natural world in an industrial society, while simultaneously paying homage to ancient artistic practices. Today, American artist Robert Cannon employs the omnipresence of nature in a similar fashion as the inspiration and foundation for his terraform sculptures, sculptures that have been “engineered” to be in the likeness of Earth’s topography and ecology. According to the artist, “In the technology driven world, where artificial reality, genetic engineering, and pharmaceutically altered personalities are becoming ubiquitous, Terraforms pursue a conscious and direct experience of Nature.” Cannon, who acknowledges the aerospace industry as pioneering the concept of terraforming, combines both man-made and natural systems to confront the disinterested behavioral tendencies we institute when establishing our relationship with nature. The sculptor, who previously identified Nietzsche and Camille Paglia’s writings on the history of man and nature as influential to the direction he has taken with his art, candidly admits, “Yes, technology has blinded us to our place in the universe. I am pro-technology, capitalism, civilization, etc. It’s the only place where man's dream of individual freedom can be realized. But nature must
be considered; it demands it sooner or later.” Cannon’s terraforms seek to address our limited view of nature as the sublime source of life and reality, which the artist says has been forgotten by contemporary society. Cannon expands further on the greater objective of his art and on the present social climate when he explains, “In an overly processed pop obsessed culture, untethered from the ships of history and the environment, Terraforms reflect the Green Movement as the reboot of the Modern, as Modernism 2.0, and present a challenge to the dreary reign of post modernity. The ship of civilization is moving again.” The uSE of art as a means to extend the breadth of the environmental movement is both a necessity and a testament to the versatility of art as a universal language. Although origi-
nally intended as a critical reading of the role of urban monuments, Nelé Azevedo’s Army of Melting Men (see opposite page) has recently been coopted by the environmental movement as a poignant symbol of climate change, and the artist reveals that she is pleased her art can speak of urgent matters that threaten our existence on the planet. In this respect, the Brazilian artist states that our relationship with nature is something we have to rethink. For Azevedo, climate change reveals the interconnectedness of humanity by placing the same level of urgency upon all individuals, which from her perspective “demands a change in the paradigm of development.” By positioning her work towards the public milieu of social, political, and environmental life, Azevedo forces her audience to surpass the tired convention of sterile thought through direct interaction. In doing so, the artist engages the
community to assist in her investigation of man’s relationship to the monument, a symbol of urban development and the artificial world, which is an underlying topic of this series of installations referred to as the Minimum Monument project. After three years of experimenting with a variety of materials that ranged from clay to resin, Azevedo finally discovered the perfect medium that could poetically translate her stance on the fragility of man: ice. Since 2005, Azevedo has been creating her Army of Melting Men and subsequently placing them in urban metropolitan centers around the world. Although the amount of ice sculptures is dependent on the location of the installation and can reach anywhere from hundreds to thousands, wherever she goes, Azevedo creates a psychologically stimulating experience for her audience that is influential on a monumental scale. The heat that Robert Cannon, Hanging Garden
reaches the sculptures from exposure to the sun and the close proximity of its mass audience causes these tiny figures to slowly melt, each at a different rate. Having an estimated lifespan of thirty to forty minutes, the juxtaposition of the installation with the monument itself gives the inanimate objects a voice that visibly speaks of man’s vulnerability. The ephemeral and transient aspect of Azevedo’s Melting Men is symbolic of life and death, movement and change. In essence, man’s existence parallels that of nature; both are cyclical and can not be governed. The Brazilian artist explains how she and fellow artists Ana Rusche, Juliana Corradini, and Ana Paula do Val plan to expand on this theme with their upcoming project, Anhangabaú: a river for the absent ones. This installation, currently awaiting authorization from the Brazilian government, analyzes the concept of historical memory
while honoring the indigenous Guaraní people by resurfacing the historical layers of São Paulo, Brazil. Upon authorization, Azevedo and her team will symbolically recreate the Anhangabaú River that has been channeled and submersed beneath the concrete valley of São Paulo; once constructed, the work will display a specific text written in Guaraní and its adapted translation in Portuguese that reads, “The night of the new moon asks us for the maps submerged among the stars.” The recreation of the Anhangabaú River reflects on human evolution and the extent of our dependence on the artificial world that we have created, and thus by default, our disconnection with the natural world that we originally inhabited. In her own words Azevedo states, “the work forces the audience to nurture the necessity of poetic roots and to remember the urban rivers that once channeled and tend to be forgot-
Nele Azevedo, Minimum Monument, Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin, 2009
ten by most of the population.” Just as Azevedo is channeling the memories of a more organic past, so does Israeli born artist Aharon Gluska who uses his art to stress the necessity of recollection in human consciousness. For Gluska, the direction of his art was easily dictated by the environment in which he spent most of his life. Growing up, the Israeli artist spent a substantial amount of time in the desert, which he says contributed to his love for nature. His fascination lies not merely in the beauty of nature, but more-so in the natural phenomena that has shaped the current landscape. The process of creating his art was akin to the complication of understanding nature itself. Without depending on technology, Gluska had to experiment with various methods, unconventional as they may be, that would metaphorically bring nature
into his studio. The artist ultimately constructed a large bathtub, which he fills with water, black paint, and acrylic matte gel. After using a stick to create a series of disordered waves, Gluska begins to dip large pieces of Coventry paper into the water, holding it at various angles while moving back and forth. The final product mimics the natural movement and presence of wind responsible for the gradual and multilayered formation of the desert, depicting a landscape that appears virginal and untouched by mankind; the endless terrain bears a sense of peace, tranquility, and truth. The artist states, “It is important for me to remind the audience of nature before it was built and destroyed by civilization.” The fluidity of the process, and thus, the artist’s lack of absolute control on the final product echoes humanity’s inability to control the natural world: In the end it is nature that controls our existence. The contextual approach of Japanese artist and architect Kimihiko Okada is similar to Azevedo in that it relies on the forces of nature to help illustrate the changes occurring in the natural world. Okada’s Aluminum Landscape, which takes its name from the material used to create it, measured nearly seven meters in height and was supported by an internal steel structure that covered an area slightly over 900 square meters. Displayed in the sunken garden within the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo during the summer of 2008, the psychological weight of the installation was clearly matched by the magnitude of its physical presence. According to Okada, “The installation is complete when it affects or is affected by the surrounding environment such as light, wind, and the people who see it.” Mimicking the mountainous topography of the natural world, Aluminum Landscape relies on weathering, physical contact, and the passage of time to produce a scene that tangentially and organically alters its appearance. Okada, thus reliant on the forces of nature
to complete his work, is keenly aware of what he sees as the escalating violence perpetrated against the world by natural disasters. The artist recounts the earthquake that struck North East Japan in March, 2011 and the resulting decrease in population, economic crisis, and disruption of nuclear power plants that caused both environmental damage and physical harm to the citizens of the country. For Okada, who was a victim of the natural disaster, the earthquake not only maintained the great power of nature but also emphasized that humanity is now at a stage where, as a collective society, antiquated belief systems need to be thrown away. The artist elaborated on this thought by stating that the earthquake “taught us that humans are no superior beings; humans are but one being that exist in one moment of Earth’s long history. We need to realize that the thought-tobe great [urban] developments can easily be swept away by the amplitude of nature.” One can only assume that, as a global society, we are not fully aware of the dangers we will face in the future. The work of Canadian sculptor Aganetha Dyck also represents the limited scope we currently have on the possible loss of a species we depend on. Although Dyck’s process of creating art may be considered an unconventional practice by canonical Western thought, it is one she has been executing for over twenty years. Her procedure begins with the placement of an object within the confines of a beehive. Giving up artistic control, Dyck depends on the honeybees, which she calls “the true creators”, to the build richly ornate and vibrantly colorful honeycomb structures around
each item. To Dyck, it is the mystery surrounding the honeybees, their gift of scent and their architectural abilities that attracts people to her work. While the compelling aspects of her sculptures conjure aesthetic stimulation, it also addresses the greater issue surrounding the extinction of the species. Many people are unaware of the fact that bees are the best pollinators
in the world, and thus by association, they remain oblivious to our dependence on them for successful farming. Moreover, these individuals neglect the reality of our economic reliability on the food and crops bees are responsible for yielding, and they forget the basic necessity of this agricultural produce for a fundamentally healthy diet. While many artists use their art to speak to greater levels of environmental issues, Dyck focuses on the power of the small. Her art not only represents her interest in interspecies communication, but on a symbolic
level, it questions the ramifications for humans, plants, and animals should honeybees become extinct. As Dyck utilizes her art to highlight the potential dangers humanity faces at the potential loss of our global ecosystem, Seattle based artist Vaughn Bell produces art that serves as a vehicle to challenge a viewer's outmoded perception of nature and humanity as
mutually exclusive. For Bell, producing art that does not conform to traditional practices provides a simpler manner in which to use the work as a vehicle to speak about complex issues. The artist is clearly more stimulated by attracting an audience through involvement, humor, and sensory elements than taking a didactic or confrontational approach. Simply step into one of her exhibitions and you are automatically confronted with her witty, yet engaging, artistic methods. In Village Green, a series of suspended terrariums that invite the viewers to physically “go inVaugh Bell, Village Green
side” (see above), Bell calls upon her audience to transcend their traditional modes of experiencing art and replace them with one that is more participatory and thought-provoking. Her playful tone is also evident in Surrogate Mountains, where the audience is invited to take a miniature version of Mt. Rainier for a walk. The nomadic mountain travels around the city using three wheels, a leash, and the assistance of its temporary guardian who happens to be listening to a recording of the mountain’s soundscape. As the natural soundtrack continuously merges with the sounds of city traffic, some very interesting conversations take place on the city streets. These moments of surprise and unexpected attention form the foundation of the artist’s public works. For Bell, who describes her work as a response to her “exploration of the paradox and ambiguity of our definitions of nature as something separate from humans,” creating sculptures that produce direct interaction with nature and the environment forces viewers to both confront the myth that humans and nature are separate entities and address their own interdependence with the natural world. It is evident that mankind’s inability to distinguish desire from necessity has greatly altered the planet’s natural landscape. While humans have become reliant on the natural world to secure their own resources, there seems to be a lack of awareness that humanity and nature are inter-dependent. There have been times in history when a more symbiotic relationship was the foundation of social order, and as these ideas are all but lost in a post-modern society, it is important
for artists to create works that remind the viewer of his or her responsibility to protect our global ecology, and thus, our future. Perhaps former president Lyndon B. Johnson said it best when he reminded us, “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.” With a world full of people seemingly locked in a perpetual cycle of bad habits, this task is a daunting one. Similar to an infinite amount of other moral and cultural issues that our society is facing, sometimes a direct approach may not be the best one. The artists presented here utilize their cultural backgrounds and a wide range of media in an attempt to bring this relationship to light through their own interpretations. People need to know about these necessary changes, but they also need to feel them. The ability of art to affect people combined with the role of art as a universal language affords these artists and numerous others around the world a unique platform from which to provoke change. Los Angeles native artist Robert Standish makes the comparison in a musical context when he says that “Bob Marley could take a listener of his music to a place of relaxed listening with seductive rhythms and tranquil grooves as he called upon people for radical change and rebellion.” By virtue of the fact that nature has long served the arts as muse or canvas, these artists have a unique way of drawing the audience in, stimulating their senses, and engendering them with an unexpected and grave new perspective: without a more acute realization of our interdependence with the environment, humanity’s vital connection with nature might soon be lost forever. In Fall 2011, an exhibition featuring these artists will be on display at Rivera & Rivera Gallery in Los Angeles.
MARIE THIBEAULT Semaphor, 2011 o/c 90 x 74 in. (image cropped)
GEORGE LAWSON GALLERY | LOS ANGELES 8564 Washington Blvd. Culver City 90232 | 310-837-8400 | www.georgelawsongallery.com
GEORGE LAWSON GALLERY
LOS ANGELES Zhang Huan Blum & Poe Culver City [through Jul 9]
Zhang Huan: (top) 49 Days No. 7, 2011, gray brick and steel, 66.87”x92.5”x66.87”; (bottom) Pagoda, 2009, gray brick, steel, and taxidermied pig, 244” (height) x 335” (diameter). Images courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe.
HK Zamani CB1 Downtown [through Jul 2] Zamani, Untitled, 2011, oil on canvas, 24”x36".
26 C|C|A Summer 2011
For nearly two decades, Zhang Huan has established himself as one of the preeminent artists to emerge from China since the early 90s. Zhang has developed a vast body of work ranging from endurancebased body performance (while living in New York) to large-scale public commissions, painting and sculpting with incense ash and even reinterpreting Handel's classic opera Semele at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Belgium and the Poly Theater, Beijing. Central to his new exhibition, 49 Days, will be Pagoda (see left) an imposing brick sculpture originally displayed at the Shanghai Art Museum. The twenty-two foot tall bell shaped pagoda is comprised of salvaged brick collected from demolition sites surrounding Shanghai (centuries old buildings that have been bulldozed in place of modern architectural progress). Near the center of the structure is a carved window from which a taxidermied pig periodically emerges and from where clouds of incense ash are dramatically emitted into the gallery. Pagoda serves partly as a tribute to Zhu Gangqiang, or the “Cast-Iron Pig", now famous for having survived 49 days in rubble, following China's historic 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Upon hearing its story of survival, Zhang negotiated the pig's
purchase and has subsequently adopted him into his studio, employing a full-time caretaker and making his likeness a central part of his artistic practice. The number "49" (from which the show takes its title) is dually significant, both for its relationship to Zhu Gangqiang's story and for its connection to Buddhist thought, as the Buddhists believe 49 days is the amount of time ones soul remains on earth between death and reincarnation. In addition to Pagoda, Zhang will present a series of newly constructed brick sculptures taking the form of pigs (often larger than life) and skulls. Zhang will present sculptures that function as both freestanding floor pieces and twodimensional hanging wall pieces, in some cases weighing in excess of 4,000 pounds. The sculptures testify to Zhang Huan's interest in personal, community and artistic survival; topics he has been exploring in depth since his physically intense performance pieces of the early 1990s. The brick may also be viewed metaphorically, as the works are constructed by the hands of Chinese laborers, representing the building blocks of a new world super power and place of constant reinvention that depends on its vast population and its labor to ensure progress as a nation.
Los Angeles-based artist HK Zamani’s Inbetween Air, Land and Sea features the artist’s work over the past 20 years, ranging from paintings and objects to site specific, multi-media installations, often including performances. HK Zamani’s images in this series of new paintings grow out of or away from their predecessors—they are sometimes devils, then angels. Some are on land, in the air or sea, occasional remnants, reformed or transformed over multiple applications of paint. The artist’s dome paintings from recent past exhibitions were portraits, perhaps even selfportraits, fragile portrayals. Some were ruins, some were vessels that transport — chrome and against
corrosion — DeLorean, stellar. Many of the artist’s dome/tent paintings were more about the image than paint. The artist’s new paintings over the past 2 years, including the paintings in this exhibition, are most definitely about paint. In an LA Times review of a group exhibition at CB1 Gallery, David Pagel wrote that “Zamani’s meaty paintings come from the no-man’s- land between sleep and wakefulness, when consciousness is not fully functional and every little detail is more mysterious than usual. Cartoons form the backstory of his boileddown compositions, but abstraction comes to the forefront in his idiosyncratic pictures that hover on the cusp of recognizablity.” Zamani’s work is also in the permanent collection of LA County Museum of Art.
EXHIBITIONS Out of the Desert, Lærke Lauta's fifteenth video to date and the first to be shot in the U.S., takes place in Los Angeles during an unusually hot day, the result of intense Santa Ana winds blowing in from the Mojave Desert. The people and the city are running at half speed. There is also a heightened tension and a stillness before the storm, as if something is about to explode. The video consists of a series of scenes played out between a man and a woman on various indoor and outdoor locations in L.A. In each of the scenes there is a man and a woman, and then there is something else happening between them, something that takes place in their mind. In one scene you see a woman in full figure, stretched out on the grass by the beach, playing with a lighter. On a second channel you see her sweater,
lying beside her, catching on fire. On a third channel you see, again, a close up of her arm, however, in this projection a man's hand is holding her wrist in a firm grip, pressing it down into the grass. Drawing from a northern European tradition that ascribes romantic, spiritual, and enigmatic qualities to the natural landscape, Lauta's video installations map internal and external states of consciousness and are characterized by an undertone of unresolved suspense — the latent fear of a fatal event that is not directly revealed. The artist's camera does not present a decisive moment but functions instead as an instrument of premonition and doubt. Austere light, a lush palette, and evocative sound combine in Lauta's work to create liminal spaces that linger in memory, combining a sense of exhilaration, suspense, and danger.
Signs of Life, an exhibition of Northern California-based painter Terry Thompson's new work, features recent paintings that employ an expressionist style to render botanical forms. In Thompson's oil paintings of neon signage, he renders wires, rivets and other minutia because of his appreciation for how these hand-made signs are built. This may be a result of the many years he spent as an equipment engineer in Silicon Valley prior to earning his MFA at San Jose State University. Terry is primarily drawn to older, unique signs that have somehow avoided the wrecking ball. Thompson says, "I see these signs as historically and emotionally charged metaphors for beating the
odds. When I render rust, faded paint or broken neon, I'm imbuing my paintings with a sense of humanity and history." Text is prominent in most of Thompson's paintings and he often amplifies its ambiguity by aggressively cropping. This results in disjointed text and words that confront the viewer, begging to be read or deciphered. Thompson finds his subjects while exploring the forgotten back streets of cities. This discovery process, coupled with being in the presence of these signs, is important for his method which coalesces into paintings that are geometrically, contextually, and formally interesting; paintings which reveal a hidden beauty in the mundane and banal.
Post 9-11, a group exhibition distinct of a decade and definitive of an era. The work of the nine artists represented (Dan Colen, Terence Koh, Hanna Liden, Nate Lowman, Adam McEwen, Ryan McGinley, Agathe Snow, Dash Snow, and Aaron Young) defies categorization in a particular movement or style, yet poignantly references a collective history through works of painting, photography, sculpture, and installation. Practicing in the new millennium, these New York based-artists, friends and collaborators, are brought together by a sense of community and shared history. Their relationships with each other cemented fully over the last ten years — a decade spent sharing ideas, stu-
dios, apartments, and themselves. This intimate connection not only informed their respective practices, it also influenced their creative progressions. The loose society of downtown New York provides affirmation that the bond created making art together proved a powerful factor in the voice and vision of these artists. Creating imagery, which at times expressed a rebellious spirit and freedom, also responds to their experience of these ten tumultuous years. The artists’ work runs the gamut: defiant, irreverent and destructive; sublime, utopian, and filled with emotion. This exhibition characterizes present a visual memoir that reflexts the mood and complexities of a decade.
Lærke Lauta Luis De Jesus Santa Monica [through Jul 18]
Laerke Lauta, Out of the Desert, 2011, video.
Terry Thompson George Billis Culver City [through Jul 2]
Terry Thompson, The Place, 2011, oil on canvas, 46”x36".
“Post 9-11” OHWOW Santa Monica [June 30 - Aug 27]
Dan Colen, Blop!, 2011. © Dan Colen. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Robert McKeever.
EXHIBITIONS Brendan Lott Walter Maciel Culver City [through Jul 9]
Brendan Lott: (top) Illuminated Arc, 2011, tape and mylar, 98”x122.5”x33.5”; (bottom) Total Information Loss, 2011, tape, string and paint on wood panels, 64”x127”x 14”.
Arron Sturgeon & Mary Koneff
William Turner Santa Monica [through Jul 9]
(top) Arron Sturgeon, Masquerades of Spirits, encaustic on panel, 30”x24”; (bot) Mary Koneff, Untitled #1, encaustic on panel, 60”x60”.
28 C|C|A Summer 2011
Up and Down and Top and Bottom and Charm and Strange, the most recent body of work by Los Angeles based artist Brendan Lott, represents a stark shift from Lott’s previously exhibited work. No longer photorealistic renderings of momentary adolescent awkwardness and unrestraint, the new works display linear markings that deal instead with abstraction, illusion and tightly controlled grids and patterns. The result is a stark environment made with a system of overlapping lines and negative space much like the ambiguity of a map for an unfamiliar city. Indeed, the works employ the walls of the gallery in ways beyond merely a presentation space. Using materials such as string, tape, Mylar, wood, wire and paint, Lott creates illusionistic wall drawings using a layering of different surfaces to combine the three-dimensional props with the two-dimensional surface. The intricate patterns form an austere language using simple colors, geometry, and observable negative space in keeping with the work of Frank Stella or Agnes Martin. The main difference is Lott’s approach and awareness of the gallery space itself. The works involve using the materials to piece together rigid, almost architectural diagrams formed of lines that vary in thickness and length. In the piece Exaltation of Pure Relations two triangular shapes overlap with consecutive lines made of black tape and balance on one corner point at the floor. The lines of each triangle work their way outward along either side before being intersected by a thick perpendicular line. The break causes a con-
sistent bend towards another corner of each triangle. The overlapping area forms a visual grid that is accentuated with Mylar to define the negative space. Two different sized square panels are incorporated into the composition and become part of the surface through the use of tape making a continuous line. The layout of each panel also includes Mylar placed in exact positions to challenge the notion of repetitive imagery within the overall pattern. In contrast to the drawings presented in the center of the walls, two works will be positioned in opposite corners of the gallery to emphasize untraditional gallery space. Both compositions demand a comparison of the surfaces along either wall and an awareness of the relationship of intersecting lines. One of the works employs the use of the floor to continue the patterning of the lines. Similar to the range in positioning and thickness of each line, there is a range in the materials used to represent them. In one work similar strings are arranged in a linear format to function as alternative lines. The strings are evenly positioned coming out of an existing gallery wall and intersect three identical wood panels, one placed flat on the floor and the other two placed upright on the wall. Throughout, it remains evident that each surface of constructed materials and the caged squares of white gallery wall created in their path were painstaking measured out. Illusion functions in the moments where the drawings can become sculptural or simply remain as a flat outline within the overall installation.
Arron Sturgeon paints in oil and wax, and through a process of abrading and scraping, builds up a multi-layered series of overlapping surfaces. His paintings are redolent of decay and beauty; of the intuitive, reflexive, and “being in the moment;” all common enough tropes associated with abstract expressionism. In this, his fifth generation of an ongoing series, explores how painting mutates and re-contextualizes meaning through integrating digital and painting processes. His canvases bear testament to a remarkable series of free-floating layers that swirl over one another in a manner that evokes a bird’s-eye perspective in the
viewer that engages and enervates. Luminous transparent areas and soft fluid spaces ‘roll’ over each other in opposing kinetic energies, and the eye is pulled around the canvas centrifugally. Mary Koneff’s new paintings are impressionistic landscapes of earthly reflection. Neither abstract nor figurative, they conjure depth as well as surface. While the paint mimics natural processes like sedimentation and evaporation — in places fluid, in others like a fine crust — the contrast of density and translucency evokes the transitory conditions of mind and emotion. The shifting associations in their indefinite space are much like memory itself.
EXHIBITIONS American debut of Courts represents the American debut by the young British photographer Elliott Wilcox, while Rotations and Rubbings offers new work by Southern California artist Laura Parker. In Courts, Elliott Wilcox photographs racquet, squash, and traditional “real tennis” courts absent any games or players. With an interest in discovering the details that are overlooked, Wilcox focuses on the graphic qualities of the open spaces with an emphasis on bold, flat colors and formal, linear structures. Wilcox explains, "the vivid stains, ball marks, blood and scratches force the viewer to focus on these details rather then just the courts." His rich colors and simple shapes create a strong exhibition. Wilcox has exhibited internationally. His Court series caught the attention of Charles Saatchi, and the famed collector shortlisted Wilcox for his BBC documentary television show. He recently won a Lucie Award for the Discovery of the Year at the International Photography Awards. Laura Parker resumes her
examination of time, structure and curious ideas in relation to perception. Each photograph combines a projected negative and a photogram, an image made without a camera by placing objects directly onto the surface of a photo-sensitive material and then exposing it to light. Her images then appear within a black field with a "light halo" around the object. In the end, each picture results in a circle. "From the planetary to the simple hollow of a bowl, I find myself attracted to the circle. It is perfectly balanced, there is a reference to optics and to the human eye, and a circle holds the tension between both unending movement and utter stillness." Laura Parker is collected privately throughout California and the United States. Her work was recently selected to be part of “Influential Element: Exploring the Impact of Water,” Long Beach Museum of Art. Parker also had an exhibit, with some of this work, at the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, California. She currently lives and works in Pasadena, CA.
New Wilderness, a two-part exhibition of new color photographs by artist Anthony Lepore on view at both M+B and François Ghebaly, is a provocative series of photographs that lay bare nature as an historical construct governed by human invention and intervention. The series, comprised of numerous landscapes, undermines the commonplace distinction between the real (nature) and simulation (image), alluding to the power of politics and representation in shaping our interactions with the world. Although these photographs often suggest collage or post-production alterations, Lepore eschews digital manipulation and shoots with a 4 x 5 camera in the interpretive visitor centers of designated wilderness areas. As the title suggests, Lepore’s images recast the wild as it is restaged in the low-budget theater that is the visitor center. These spaces are the vestibules to wilderness—indoor recreations intended to instruct the newcomer on the open spaces they border, asking only that they walk the distance of the parking lot. By reframing these displays, which usually incorporate other photographs, these images also reflect on our predominant way of experiencing
nature—through photography. While the work nods to the idea that we are detached from the wilderness often by the very actions we take to “know it,” it is far from aloof. Lepore neither tries to simulate the meticulous fervor of the scientific naturalist, nor does he attempt to join that dense history or polemicize it. The pamphlet, the diorama, the topographical model are the iconic result of what resembles reverence. That the artist immersed himself in these environments to get long, 4 x 5 exposures denotes his involvement. He wants to go there too. An avid hiker himself, Lepore knows first hand the achy impossibility of “capturing” the wild in a photograph. It is only the body that can experience it. And this understanding on the part of the artist—that he can and must separate the ontological urge (to be in it) from the indexical urge (to know it)—that gives way to this new body of work that manages to refer to both. Born in 1977, Anthony Lepore’s work has been exhibited internationally, from Shanghai to New York to Basel and is held in the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles.
Elliot Wilcox and Laura Parker dnj Santa Monica [through Jul 9]
(top) Elliott Wilcox, Real Tennis 09, c-print, 2009, 30”x40”. (bot) Laura Parker, Landscape in Red and Green, 2009 detail, chromagenic monotype print, installation of 7 panels, 51.5"x72"
Anthony Lepore M+B West Hollywood François Ghebaly Culver City [through Jun 18]
Anthony Lepore: (top) Soft Spot, 2009, archival pigment print, 40”x50”, edition of 5 plus 2 artist’s proofs [at M + B]; (bottom) The Hiker, 2009, archival pigment print, 40”x50”, edition of 5 [at François Ghebaly]
EXHIBITIONS Group Show den West Hollywood [through Jul 8]
Kristi Lippire, from the book series 'Canary Island', gouache on paper, 7”x5". Courtesy of den.
Chad Attie Kana Manglapus Venice [through Jul 8]
Chad Attie, Caperucita Roja, 2011, mixed media collage. 20”x20”.
Diamond Dust See Line West Hollywood [through Jul 31] (below) Colin Roberts, Bubble Wrap Cube, 2011, urethane, 10” cube. (right) BH Smoothie, 5, 2010 lightjet print,edition 2 of 5, 24”x20”.
30 C|C|A Summer 2011
When My Solution is a Hammer, All My Problems Look Like Nails is a group exhibition featuring Timothy Hutchings, Aragna Ker, Molly Larkey, Kristi Lippire, Renee Lotenero, Dana Maiden, and Matt Wardell. Exploring the spatial context of an object or blurring the relationship between different objects, these artists destabilize the perception of dimension and distance. Some of the artists alter what is flat to something spherical, others conjure illusionistic physical arrangements of the two-dimensional plane as well as the three-dimensional structure. In this group of works, there is no sole conventional method of carving, casting, or accumulating the same piece to build three-dimension structures. Instead
the sculptures are created through a mix of myriad materials and approaches. While exploring the formal aspect of the work through diverse means – with use of color or surface, utilizing photographic process or video compositions, employing an architectural approach, and integrating abstract imagery - the artists also address cultural concerns ranging from ethnicity to consumerism to urbanism. [The gallery will also present the solo project, (nothing but) flowers, by Sophia Allison. Allison’s installation is inspired by the organic environs of her life and her distinctive use of fragile, ephemeral material in her work reflects the impermanency of a natural world and as well as a manmade environment.]
Chad Attie’s practice is rooted in a quintessentially urban impulse to salvage a sense of beauty from the mundane trappings of the contemporary world. There is also a strong metaphorical significance in the way his works seem to have been made, by a hand often as much at the mercy of his materials as in control of them. The Girl With The Golden Eyes asks the question if it is ever possible to control what we see and attain what we desire, or whether by engaging with it we destroy what we touch. Throughout Attie’s career his work has been influenced by extensive travels to such places as Morocco, Russia, Burma, Vietnam, Japan, Turkey, and Cambodia. Many of the ideas in The Girl With The Golden Eyes have come from such contrasting cultural notions as well as environments, textures, and objects he has photographed or detri-
tus collected in his travels. Original photographs, thrifted paintings, broken toys, discarded book jackets and torn children’s illustrations are transformed by Attie into resonantly colorful images that simultaneously signify the material transience of the urban environment and the multiple layers its experience can manifest upon its inhabitants. At the core of Attie’s works is a set of rather dark ideas – the fragility of beauty, the inevitable loss of youthful innocence, and an uneasy sense of the rapaciousness of the male gaze. The Girl With The Golden Eyes exemplifies this in sampling eclectic representations of the female form from Hellenistic slaves to film stills of Brigitte Bardot. The Girl With The Golden Eyes ask the spectator to look at the world as he does, as a place rich in poetic subjects, but also full of contradictions and betrayals.
Curated by Janey Levy, Diamond Dust is a group exhibition including works by Raif Adelberg, Chad Attie, Katherine Gray, Shahla Kareen, Jenny Le, Joseph Lee, Lesley Moon, Rachael Neubauer, Colin Roberts, and Nicolau Vergueiro. Diamond Dust includes sculpture, installation, photography and works on paper. The works unveil the juxtaposed relationship between our everyday objects and their reflection up against the mesmerizing abstracts. Utilizing a
diverse range of carefully crafted materials and techniques, the works in the exhibition draw from printed imagery, images of daily life and everyday objects. The works are executed in diverse materials, magazine images, fabric, glass, resin, urethane. and photography. Each of the artists in the show share a fascination or obsession with an idea or object which engages a sense of mystique to captivate us. Via mesmerizing sparkle, shiny materials and utilizing light, reflection or an altered form, each work urges us to consider our relationship to formalism and alteration of the form.
EXHIBITIONS Lesley Vance's paintings make use of a full range of effects associated with oil paint. Their compositions, activated by illusionistic plays of light and wet-on-wet brushwork, function as vessels for the movement of paint itself: for hue, viscosity, and the relationship between hand and medium. The work is defined by this simultaneous action, one in which paint can be seen both for its intrinsic properties and for its ability to imply fictive spaces. While Vance's process begins with the observation of actual objects that she arranges and lights in the studio, the paintings are records of an evolution of materials, and of the transformation from one set of objects and light effects to another. The new paintings often depict attenuated, dispersed shapes rather
than consolidated ones, as if to call attention to light's calligraphic movement across the visual field. They also chart unexpected connections between the lineage of the still life genre and a host of other archetypes and movements throughout the history of art. In particular, some of the new works conjure the otherworldly light, perforated spaces, and strange familiarity that the surrealists brought to painting during the first half of the twentieth century. A body of new watercolor works on paper represents another material expression of these concerns. Their brushwork occurs at a smaller scale and brings out more intimate aspects of the forms. Her work are not representations of pre-existing things, but essays on light as the basic force of representation.
TOPO/GRAPHY, an exhibition that investigates the mapping of the relief, stratigraphy and history of land. This presentation considers how human beings position themselves within an evolving and increasingly complex world. Through the primary form of wall-based steel sculptures, Cris Bruch’s Bramble represents the cul-desacs, utility sites, drives and driveways of suburban development. Abandoning the traditional paintbrush, Mary Heebner dips her hands directly into dry minerals and wet pigments to form bold silhouettes of ancient vessels. Steve Schmidt uses handcollected samples of rock and soil to create his own tempera paints that reflect unique expressions inherent to each place. Mexico based artist Davis Birks explores the aesthetics of the science of topography in his visually intricate abstract drawings. Using CAD software and CNC (Computer Numerical Controls) technology to create his brilliantly colored, large-format line ren-
derings, Seattle based artist Leo Saul Berk maps the interiors of caves and subterranean spaces to explore the significance of spiritually and politically charges places. Referencing the blueprint as a locus of dreams, Flora Kao accumlates overlays of the Los Angeles street grid creating imagined topographies that translate these everyday structures into systems of ethereal beauty. Adam Silverman’s wall-mounted boxes of assemblages of richly glazed clay objects that epitomize the artist’s exploration of carefully modulated relationships of scale, proximities, and rich surface textures. Brian Hollister transforms his frequent and extensive hikes through the backcountry of California and the greater Southwest into luminous and richly colored paintings. Constructed of sheets of raw steel and heavily burnished automotive paints, Michael Whiting creates a landscape within the gallery interpreted though the pixilated vocabulary of early computer gaming.
The subjects of Andrew Guenther’s work include tobacco plants, corn stalks, women with paper plate faces, a whale, hot dogs, Grecian urns, the folds of the canvas itself, a silver sail — all are symbols from Guenther’s personal lexicon alluding to both familiar and foreign stories. The artist used fewer than three colors for most of the paintings for this exhibition. The nature of the paintings’ ground is allowed to be it’s
own color as is the texture of each material. Guenther applied papier-mâché to his “plate face” paintings — which are white except for linen or chip — board peeking through in some areas. His drawings are papier-mâché figures in relief against dreamy watercolor grounds. Guenther also used the French named sculpting technique to create an urn, which he then broke and photographed.
Lssley Vance David Kordansky Los Angeles [June 25 - Aug 13]
Vance, Untitled, 2011, oil on linen, 16.5"x12". Courtesy David Kordansky Gallery. Photography: Fredrik Nilsen
“TOPO/GRAPHY” Edward Cella Los Angeles [July 9 - Aug 28]
Mary Heebner, Patagonia Unearthed Series, Indigo Vessel, 2011, acrylic on handmade Torinoko Paper, 41”x41”.
Andrew Guenther Kaycee Olsen Los Angeles [through Jul 30]
Guenther, detail of Untitled (aloe), 2011, papiermâché, cardboard, and watercolor on paper, 8”x6”.
D E T R E V I
DIV PART 4
Dave Lovejoy “Round Trip”
EXHIBIT RUNS JUNE 18th - SEPTEMBER 6th, 2011 453 S. La Brea Avenue | Los Angeles, CA 90036 www.theloftatlizs.com
On View May 15 - September 4, 2011
490 East Union Street Pasadena CA 91101 pmcaonline.org 626 568 3665
Image left: Clayton Brothers Wishy Washy (from series Wishy Washy) 2006 Mixed media on wood panel with electrical and sound 96 x 96 x 100 in. Courtesy of the artists
A REVIEW OF THE SCULPTOR’S WORK by Roberta Carasso
(clockwise from top left) Cheryl Ekstrom: Extreme Unction: Warriors Against Angst Series, metal, plaster, gauze, soundtrack, approximately 10’6”Hx24”Wx24”D; Metamorphosis “22 November 1963”, 2000, bronze, plaster, 22”Hx24”Wx15”D; Journeyman Series “Sojourners”, 2004, bronze, marble, 23”Hx29”Wx7” D; Metamorphosis Series “1430 AD”, 2000, bronze, 5”Hx14”Lx6.5”W.
The sounds of hammering, welding, sawing, and the clanking of metals were clearly heard as we turned into the industrial park for a visit to Cheryl Ekstrom’s studio. Her studio is next to a motorcycle and auto repair shop, some awesome crafts shops, a painter’s studio, and a winery. We arrived happily, accompanied by the jazzy rhythms of local industrial music. Ekstrom’s spacious workplace is divided in two by a wall down the middle, separating her studio from the studio of her artist husband, Dennis Ekstrom. Swinging open the heavy iron door, the enormous energy that exudes from Ekstrom’s workplace is palatable. Unusually high ceilings and walls are just the place for her to
34 C|C|A Summer 2011
hang, dangle or pile up all sorts of objects, forms, and knickknacks, along with pictures, photographs, and reminders of past and current projects. Large tables, huge antique cabinets, and several specific work areas are so intriguing that they slow down the visitor who lingers at everything and who must negotiate a path in and out and around one fascinating area to another. Remnants of past processes — ideas in progress, stuff that just didn’t make it, or bits of plaster, metal, clay or wood, that are too good to toss — pack her studio. These memorabilia are Ekstrom’s personal artistic encyclopedia through which she constantly gleans, vibrant sources that spark her ceaseless creativity.
Typical of Ekstrom’s way of working is that a thought gets into her head and clings to her mind and heart; not just any thought, but something philosophical, universal, lasting, and profound, an idea such as truth, struggle, healing, challenge, inspiration, or renewal. She then ponders how she could transform such an idea and make it meaningful, and even more importantly, how could she translate it into a physical form. Concepts come before fabrication. The end will determine the means. Persistence has led Ekstrom to tackle ideas such as: life cycles, functionality versus nonfunctionality, and currently, the nature of ugly versus beautiful. The sculptures usually require many types of materi-
EXHIBITIONS ARTISTS als – metals, woods, clay, papers, fabrics, waxes, ceramics, plastics, and found object of every type. With each new idea, Ekstrom continues to perfect her already professional skills in many medium. The best way to explain Ekstrom’s sculpture is to review several of her most imaginative series. There is the Eames furniture she turned into stainless steel sculpture, Metamorphosis, the Journeymen, and her current series The Elegance of Ugly. In all these series, Ekstrom searches to find ways to solidify profound human experiences into the sculptural arts. It took Ekstrom over three years to translate the essence of classical mid-century furniture into stainless steel forms. She reduced functionality, used durable, industrial materials, and treated the creation of these non-furniture elements using a reversed thought process. Usually non-functional sculpture is translated into functional furniture. Rather, Ekstrom turned the tables and made functional furniture into non-functional steel forms. Having the sole permission of the Eames Office and Herman Miller Inc. to work with their designs, Ekstrom focused on key structural elements originally produced with molded wood and steel, plastic, wire mesh, and leather. She created in steel the Marshmallow Sofa by George Nelson, a Charles and Ray Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, now manufactured by Herman Miller International and three Bean Bags chairs, based on the original designs of Gatti, Paolini, and Teodora. Ekstrom calls the series Stable Inhabitants of a Changing World. Interested in the nature of the maturation process and how bodies change, Ekstrom developed the Metamorphosis series. The work is a profound investigation into the journey through life cycles. Instead of pursuing the longevity of the human, she focused on mythological insects. Graceful wings, long extended ballet legs, swirling tails, and female faces are bedecked in elaborate headdresses. Ladybugs, spiders, scorpions and
mysterious creepy-crawlies became her subject. Among the menagerie is a half-human, half-bug-like creature with an antennae head and whimsical faces. Using plaster and a metal armature, she built each creature, engaging in a metamorphosis of her own as she planned out, step-by-step, the materials and processes that were needed to reach the final form. Not only is the metamorphosis provocative, but the end results, made with steel, bronze, and mixed media, makes us aware of the wonder, the never-ending act of creation, that continually transforms all creatures through stages of growth. Being a realist, Ekstrom infuses each form with suggestions of pain, suffering, and renewal, necessary stages of a true metamorphosis. In the Journeymen series, Ekstrom depicted the metaphoric soul-searching passage through life of the human being. To convey the timeless, raw essence of the journey, the artist stripped each figure of detail, removes gender, facial features, identifiable clothing, and characteristics that might place each in a particular time, place, or personality. Ekstrom created 40 bronze figures, based on the Biblical meaning of the number 40 – 40 days and nights of rain, 40 days in the desert, and also 40 days for an embryo to become either a male or female. Placed individually or in groups, the Journeymen are the sum of an individual’s development -- taking risks, experiencing failure, delighting in accomplishments, marriage, children, conflicts, resolutions, and finally, the realization of dreams. These eternal figures stand in a row amongst their other journeymen, yet each can stand on its own. Each wandering figure clearly has its own persona. Some appear amorphous, wrapped in fabric with the simplicity of a mummy, embryo, or a monk. Others are crude, enlivened by various bright colored patinas. Their primal, even awkward structure, with tattered threads hanging out, seams exposed, identifies them as human despite a minimal of body parts. Over many years, each fig-
ure was created individually at various stages in Ekstrom’s own personal and artistic development. She deliberately formed each journeyman in a rough and almost primitive manner. Rather than create a refine, external façade, Ekstrom’s venerable figures epitomizes the inevitable barebones internal struggle needed to proceed through the often arduous, spiritual journey through life. Ekstrom has shown her work at many auspicious galleries, including the Museum of Design, Art and Architecture in Los Angeles and the Museum of Villa Haiss, Zell, Germany. Her latest exhibition, at the Art Cube Gallery in Laguna Beach, concerns the nature of ugly. Entitled The Elegance of Ugly, Ekstrom deals with what many people might see as having an unpleasant appearance. Ever since she was in 7th grade, Ekstrom had to stand up for her beliefs that an old rusty tool, a wooden handle salvaged from a farm implement, or a dug up thingamajig, has character and is worth enjoying, let alone be reborn in a new sculptural work. There is a wall hanging that combines a scroll she wrote in Asianlike calligraphy, with an old Japanese roof tile, and assorted natural wooden sticks. There is also a hundred year old Victorian dress dyed red, dipped in wax and sandwiched between two large pieces of Plexiglas. Another sculpture is a poetic configuration made from raffia reeds once used as currency in the Congo. Ekstrom scavenges swap meets, technology graveyards, and unlikely places to find her rare treasures. She has an uncanny knack for putting the unexpected together, in the most dynamic way. But most importantly Ekstrom’s work provokes thoughtful ideas that stay with the viewer, even when her sculptures are no longer in view.
For more information about Cheryl Ekstrom, visit cherylekstrom.com Roberta Carasso can be reached at email@example.com Artists
PAINTING LIGHTâ€™S REFLECTIONS by Julie R. Novakoff
Lesley Vance: Untitled, 2011, oil on linen, 13"x10.75"; Untitled, 2011, oil on linen, 19"x14". Both images courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Photography: Fredrik Nilsen
From June 25 through August 13, 2011, David Kordansky Gallery will exhibit a new body of work by painter Lesley Vance, an artist who quickly entered the spotlight after her work was selected for the 2010 Whitney Biennial by curators Francesco Bonami and Gary Carrion-Murayari. I sat down with Stuart Krimko, Associate Director of the David Kordansky Gallery, to gather an inside perspective on the artist, her theory of painting and why demand for her work is flourishing. Julie Novakoff: How did you discover Lesley Vanceâ€™s work and when did you start working together? Stuart Kimko: We are very proud to say
36 C|C|A Summer 2011
that Lesley Vance is one of the foundational artists of the David Kordansky Gallery. David Kordansky and Lesley Vance attended CalArts together. They were part of a small group of friends that formed an artist collaborative, so you could say that early on there was recognition of a shared scene, if you will.
she is also a theorist. I think this is what set her apart and allowed her to participate in a dialogue among more conceptually based artists at CalArts. Even so, it is interesting that Vance thrived in this environment. She trusted her process, developed her ideas, and became a very strong artist.
JN: CalArts has a reputation for critiquing conventional ideas about art making and it is arguably a particularly antagonistic environment for painters. It is interesting to note that Vance, a painter in her own right, excelled in this environment.
JN: Vance has cited seventeenth-century still life painting as having an influence on her work. Can you elaborate on this idea?
SK: Vance has always painted and has known she wanted to be a painter, but
SK: Vance draws from the history of painting and has taken an interest in 17th-century Spanish still life paintings, particularly looking at the affects of light and the way it transforms ob-
EXHIBITIONS jects. Like 17th-century Spanish still life painters, Vance’s process begins with the observation of actual objects that she arranges and lights in the studio. She records her observations in the form of drawings and then moves to the canvas to begin building a painting. JN: Can you further explain what it means for Vance to “build a painting”? SK: For Vance, paint provides a window into a fictional space. She experiments with colors, shapes and forms, often inventing things on the canvas. Vance's paintings make use of a full range of effects associated with oil paint. Their compositions, activated by illusionistic plays of light and wet-onwet brushwork, function as vessels for the movement of paint itself: for hue, viscosity, and the relationship between hand and medium. The work is defined by this simultaneous action, one in which paint can be seen both for its intrinsic properties and for its ability to imply fictive spaces. A still life is a perfect metaphor for what is possible in art. With them we can take objects from the real world, represent them, kill them and also keep them alive. A few years ago Vance’s work had a blatant representational ethos. Now, you will never quite recognize a particular tableau that she has arranged in a finished painting. It has been very cool to see this evolution in her work. JN: So there is a definite spontaneity to Vance’s paintings? This is something to get excited about… SK: Absolutely. The still life part of her work is really just the fuel for the invention on the canvas. JN: What is something most people would not know about Vance’s paintings? SK: Most people would not know that Vance has been looking at Surrealist work. She has been looking at Magritte and you will notice that the light in her paintings has begun change. It has be-
come more “other worldly”, more open and mysterious. JN: Can you tell us a little bit about the current exhibition? Are there any overarching themes/premises? SK: Vance has been working on this body of work for the past year. The exhibition will include twelve drawings and ten watercolors, works on paper. The watercolors are completely finished works, and I think it will be really nice to see these in the context of her work. They all [watercolors] have a different relationship to the hand because of the material and the kind of light that is transmitted onto water as opposed to canvas and oil paint. No overarching themes. Each painting is its own universe. If people have only seen the works in the 2010 [Whitney Biennale] the forms in these new pieces, both the works on paper and paintings, look more attenuated. In some cases, it is less about a solid mass in the foreground or the center of the painting as it is about more calligraphic forms that inhabit the borders and edges of the composition. That is not a blanket statement but rather something to look for in this body of work. JN: Vance is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but has lived in Los Angeles since graduating CalArts in 2003. What exactly do you think has kept Vance to Los Angeles? Does this feed into her work? SK: (laughs). You hear Ed Ruscha talk about the light of L.A., but I have never heard Vance talk about this specific goldenness. I do not think with her that the influence of Los Angeles overt. I think being in Los Angeles in a more indirect way feeds into her work. The strength and breadth of the Los Angeles art scene has been growing during the last ten years and this is something that many artists want to be part of. JN: You mentioned that the gallery has received many calls regarding this forthcoming exhibition. Are all the
works already on reserve? SK: I can’t say for sure. I mean, yes the demand far outstretches the amount of work we will have in the exhibition. We have had a steady, well, more than steady (laughs), interest in her work. Demand for her work has been building within the last year and a half, shortly before her work was chosen for the last Whitney Biennale  and her work is already in great private and public collections. JN: Any particular collections? SK: I really can’t say. JN: Can we find out which collections on your website? SK: No. We do not include this information in an artist’s CV. I can only say that Vance’s work has already been placed in great local institutions and private collections all over the world. JN: Would you consider this Lesley Vance’s “breakout gallery show”? SK: Vance has already received a lot of attention. Before the 2008 crash, people were super-heated about any artist coming out of a decent MFA program. Now, I think people are redefining their focus and responding to artists who are in their 30’s, who are showing at a good gallery and making stronger and stronger work. That I think is more valuable in every sense of the word. JN: What is most captivating about Vance’s work to you? SK: As a contemporary artist it is interesting to see how she takes the traditions of painting and makes them her own. I am magnetically drawn to her work, captivated time and time again by the brushstrokes in her paintings and their ability to seduce you into thinking they are actually transmitting ACA a real light. Artists
“SELF-PORTRAIT” 1932 FROM THE BAYER FAMILY COLLECTION
EMIL NELSON GALLERY 2864 COLORADO AVE SANTA MONICA, CA 90404 310-266-9904
Published on Jun 17, 2011
Published on Jun 17, 2011
An Issue of California Contemporary Art, Published in June 2011 Adam Krueger Lesley Vance Lærke Lauta Cheryl Ekstrom