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Art review: Arthur Ou and Alice Konitz at LAXART

December 4, 2009 | 11:45 am

400.2_AO_O4W1265 In their first collaborative installation, Arthur Ou and Alice Könitz suggest a reframing of the L.A. landscape in a surprisingly pastoral mode. Each artist created one half of the installation at LAXART, and though  the two parts don't fit seamlessly, they do make a spare but evocative tableau.

Ou's contribution is a gazebo-like structure, made of six large wooden rings joined in a rounded cube. On two sides of the cube the rings are open, allowing visitors to enter. The other two sides and the roof are crisscrossed with black canvas strips that form an octagonal pattern reminiscent of rattan furniture. The pattern originated in China and the structure itself recalls Chinese garden pavilions that carefully frame specific, often symbolically loaded views.

In this case, the view is Könitz's video projection. It depicts a group of young people, wearing cardboard headdresses of various geometric shapes, as they embark on a raft across a surprisingly lush section of the L.A. River. Upon reaching their destination, they indulge in a joyous, somewhat raucous outdoor feast.

It's an unexpected vision of L.A. as a sylvan retreat inhabited by a tribe with an incongruous, Modernist aesthetic. (Anyone familiar with Könitz's sculptures will recognize her trademark cardboard constructions mimicking High Modernist designs.) Combined with Ou's more austere take on the garden pavilion, the installation offers a vista point from which to reorient one's view of L.A.

– Sharon Mizota

LAXART, 2640 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 559-0166, through Jan. 16. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.laxart.org

Image courtesy of LAXART.

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