Art review: Marie Jager at Kunsthalle L.A./François Ghebaly
Marie Jager’s images may be the quietest environmental art ever. The canvases and blueprints, which the L.A. artist creates by simply leaving them outside for stretches of time, are literally impressions of an ephemeral yet omnipresent aspect of city life—its air.
The “Pollution paintings” are small gray and white canvases “painted” by gravity and dust. Despite the uniformity of this technique, they do record local differences: Images created in downtown L.A. are denser and darker than a mottled canvas from Chinatown. And while the former appear to have been masked to create a Rothko-esque horizon line, the latter suggests a more delicate Robert Ryman monochrome.
By contrast, images in the “Starter” series are playful takes on splatter paintings. They record the spray of oil emitted when a car is started and reflect a surprising variety: a GMC Savana creates a large, spreading jellyfish shape, while a Ford Super Duty pickup truck makes a softer, haloed form like a solar eclipse. These references to abstract painting make Jager’s environmental commentary seem understated compared to the more pointed images of gas masks, money and domestic items by fellow L.A. “smog” artist Kim Abeles. But their effect is just as quietly horrifying: the realization that such “paintings” are created (and inhaled) millions of times a day.
Kunsthalle L.A., 932 Chung King Road., L.A., (323) 221-2300, through June 19. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. www.ghebaly.com
Images: Starter (Ford Super Duty Pickup) (top) and Sun Map. Courtesy of Kunsthalle L.A.