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Art review: Matt Johnson at Blum & Poe

September 29, 2011 |  6:15 pm

Matt Johnson "Hiroshima Buddha"
Each of the six new sculptures by Matt Johnson goes for a grab-your-lapels impact, only to slowly unfold in more subtle complexities. Some, such as a workman-like steel beam turned inside out to form a decorative trefoil, remain rather inert. Most, including a 15-inch funerary pyramid made from a fragile pile of densely compacted dust, resonate.

At Blum & Poe, a monumental bronze Buddha, its guts blasted open, tilts to one side, its serene Zen  features melting as if assailed by a powerful blast. The void represents both heartless destruction and self-sustaining consolation.

A huge granite boulder, remnant of geological time, has a handprint discreetly etched into its surface; creative urges are inseparable from hubris and ruin. An incandescent light bulb glows within a glass canning jar -- magical lightning captured in a bottle, yet functional ideas whose life span is ending.

Unexpectedly compelling is a simple construction made from three interlocking sheets of drywall, each with one side whimsically painted a light aqua. Sculpture's basic urge to build mass in space as it rises up off the floor is described. Interlocking sheets of color plus gypsum board turn 12 plane faces of "Dodecahedron" into a head-scratching puzzle.

Blum & Poe, 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, (310) 836-2062, through Oct. 22. Closed Sunday and Monday. www.blumandpoe.com

-- Christopher Knight

@twitter.com/KnightLAT

Photo: Matt Johnson, "Hiroshima Buddha," 2011, bronze, 108 x 96 x 60." Credit: Blum & Poe

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