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Art review: Julia Haft-Candell at ACME

May 5, 2011 |  5:35 pm

Julia Haft-Candell’s spindly sculptures are about as elegant as the junk that gets stuck in the grates of storm drains after gutter-cleansing downpours. The young artist’s gangly works are also delicate: carefully crafted, thoughtfully composed and precariously balanced. The combination of scrappy materiality and formal rigor draws viewers into a world in which it is impossible to disentangle serendipity from tough luck, whimsy from fate, freedom from necessity.

Julia Haft-Candel Hull (Dahlia)At ACME, Haft-Candell’s first solo show in Los Angeles consists of six pieces. Two stand on the floor, two hang on the walls and two do both, standing and leaning because they’re too unstable and unwieldy to stay up by either means alone.

The wall pieces, “Lobe (Cornelius)” and “Lull,” have the presence of prehistoric insects that have been turned inside-out, all the better to disguise themselves in a world of computer viruses and increasingly toxic microorganisms.

The leaners, “Stella” and “Monocle,” look like devices you might find in a tinkerer’s backyard laboratory, just after a catastrophe has destroyed the best equipment but before its capacities have been forgotten.

Haft-Candell’s floor pieces are bigger, better and more animated — like the mutant offspring of abstract collages and superhero cartoons. “Hull (Dahlia)” is a three-legged confection whose mismatched parts recall butterfly nets, lobster traps, spirit catchers, bicycle locks and necklaces. “Mabel,” nearly 8 feet tall, resembles a toppled-over radio antenna. Made of porcelain, terra cotta, silk, cotton, wood and wire, its meticulously fabricated fragments echo the textures of coral, antlers and bones, as well as spare parts from Sputnik satellites.

Each of Haft-Candell’s sculptures has its own personality, attitude and atmosphere. The rich mix enlivens the imagination, triggering divergent associations and creating endless conflicts and possibilities.

-- David Pagel

ACME, 6150 Wilshire Blvd., (323) 857-5942, through May 21. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.acmelosangeles.com

Image: Julia Haft-Candell, "Hull (Dahlia)." Credit: ACME.

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