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New arrivals from L.A. galleries

May 29, 2009 |  2:10 pm

Alejandro Diaz - Bird Cage A funky little Mexican birdcage, with wire walls framed in green-painted wood, is one of the quietest works in “First Look: An Exhibition of Emerging Artists from Los Angeles Galleries." Tucked away in a back corner, the sculpture by Alejandro Diaz might easily be overlooked, except that it packs a poignant punch. The door of the cage is ajar and a hand-lettered sign attached to the frame reads: “Lost Our Lease.”

It’s a metaphor for the current state of economic stress and human displacement, says Simon Watson, who curated the show for House of Campari as part of the company’s art program. Fourth in a series featuring works by artists who have recently had or will soon have their first solo shows in L.A. galleries, the current event offers paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, videos and mixed-media installations.

Gonzalo Lebrija - Entre la vida y la muerte (blanco y negro), 2008 Gonzalo Lebrija’s photograph “Entre la vida y la muerte (blanco y negro)” is a striking image that also has ominous overtones. A stop-action photograph of a car dropped into a lake from a great height, shot just above the surface of the water, it elicits thoughts about the brevity of life and the death of the automobile industry.

As the artist explains, the car came from a junkyard and it was dropped by a crane. But viewers simply see the upended vehicle, nose to nose with its rippled reflection in a pristine landscape.

Diaz is affiliated with the Happy Lion gallery; Lebrija with Mesler & Hug. Each of the other artists is represented by a different gallery around town. The show runs through June 14 (Tuesdays through Sundays, noon to 8 p.m.) in a temporary exhibition space at 8783 Beverly Blvd.

-- Suzanne Muchnic    

Photos: "Lost Our Lease" by Alejandro Diaz," top, and "Entre la vida y la muerte (blanco y negro)" by Gonzalo Lebrija. Credit: courtesy of House of Campari.