Category: Galleries

Art review: Andrew Lewicki at Charlie James

April 5, 2012 |  4:50 pm

Andrew Lewicki, Louis Vuitton Waffle Maker, 2012, Edition of 3, Teflon coated aluminum, enamel on aluminum sheet, generic waffle maker parts, 14 x 11.5 x 13.5 inches, Courtesy Charlie James Gallery

The sculptures in Andrew Lewicki's first solo show, at Charlie James, shimmer as brightly and briefly as fireworks -- and leave just as little residue. Each involves some sort of transposition or transformation -- the familiar re-crafted in an unfamiliar material, the precious recast as mundane or vice versa. A waffle iron bears raised, Teflon-coated Louis Vuitton monograms instead of the usual generic grid of square nubs. What looks like a stack of gold bars is actually melted and reformed gold crayons. A cast-iron manhole cover looks exactly like a giant Oreo.

The work comes across as smart and calculated, but too much so -- overly schooled, almost smug. The sculptures are all one-liners, but as Lewicki writes in an airtight accompanying statement, they're meant to be so, intended to parody the rhetorical device even if they merely exploit it.

The stunted strategy brings to mind any number of artists from a generation ago who aspired to critique the commodification of art by creating yet more art-like commodities, framed by invisible air-quotes. Lewicki's work also recalls, naturally, Warhol and Duchamp, but doesn't pick up where they left off, re-envisioning relationships between found and fabricated, art and product, desire and fulfilment.

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Art review: Leigh Ledare at the Box

April 5, 2012 |  1:23 pm

Ledare Double Bind (Diptych #1225) LL
Complicated doesn't begin to describe the relationships that Leigh Ledare cultivates and documents in his work. The gamut runs from tender through troubling to taboo. In recent photographs, videos and an installation at the Box, the New York-based Ledare mines connections and disconnections between himself, his mother, his ex-wife and assorted strangers. The show is fascinating throughout for its twisted takes on intimacy, vulnerability and the shifting balance of control between individuals on either side of the lens. 

Each of Ledare's works starts as a conceptual proposition: What if he answered "Women Seeking Men" ads and paid the women to stage a portrait of him in their own setting, according to their own naked desires? What if he re-presented fragmented footage of a soft-porn video his mother and her friends once made, leaving audible the directorial cues, heightening the artifice?

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Art review: DeLoss McGraw at Couturier

April 4, 2012 |  1:58 pm

McGraw Painted Book Creeley
This post has been corrected. See note below.

DeLoss McGraw has long based his sprightly gouaches on literary sources, but for several years now he has created a more perfect union between image and text by painting directly onto the pages of books, some still bound. Pigment thickens the volumes both physically and metaphorically, adding layers of resonance, variably obscuring and isolating sections of text, setting in motion verbal/visual echoes, rhymes, collisions, collusions.

Two shelves filled with such hybrids are the highlight of McGraw's show at Couturier, composed mostly of slight yet luminous paintings on paper. The books come in different forms, slipcased, and as loose-leaf pages in portfolios.

Within a painted box, McGraw has nested a marvelous paper coil containing the first paragraph of "The Sound and the Fury," written out in vibrant, shifting hues, in his own characteristic, loping script. The words pass over a collaged photograph and painted piano keys, unspooling in time and space with Faulknerian momentum -- elusive and persistent.

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Art review: Antoine Roegiers at YoungProjects

April 3, 2012 |  2:49 pm

Antoine Roegiers, "Les sept peches capitaux (The Seven Deadly Sins)," video projection
Antoine Roegiers fulfills a desire common to viewers of paintings by Brueghel and Bosch: He lets us in. He breaks the implicit seal on their exquisitely dense dramas and grants us the privilege to roam through villages and over hillsides, to linger upon odd and marvelous details, to enter a scene and watch it unfold in something akin to real time.

Roegiers, a Belgian artist living in Paris, paints and draws and since 2005 has been making animated videos from his own imagery and well-known works by the great 15th and 16th century Netherlandish painters. There are six videos in his first solo show in the U.S. at YoungProjects, and each stretches and bends time, kneads it and perforates it, affirms its elasticity. This is animation at its most compelling and yet most literal, devoted to the fundamental act of breathing life into something still.

In an 11-minute piece, Roegiers unpacks Bosch's phantasmagoric St. Anthony triptych, in which the hermit faces an array of real and allegorical demons. Bosch followed the pictorial convention (common to periods of Western and non-Western art alike) of representing multiple chapters from a narrative within a single, unified space.

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Art review: Urs Fischer at Gagosian Gallery

March 29, 2012 |  6:00 pm


Urs Fischer’s exhibition at Gagosian Gallery is a big disappointment. Titled “Beds & Problem Paintings,” it feels as if it’s been phoned in. Worse, its lackadaisical attitude is at odds with the spare-no-expense production of its slick, custom-made objects.

While effort, hard work and thoughtfulness are not the only ingredients that go into a work of art, they are almost entirely absent from Fisher’s pompous pieces.

The three sculptures (one in each of the three first-floor showrooms) are unimaginative rip-offs of works by Charles Ray and Robert Therrien.

Fischer’s two life-size beds are overshadowed by Therrien’s whimsically weird beds, which he has been making for a couple of decades, and Ray’s “Unpainted Sculpture” from 1997, an exact copy, in Fiberglass, of a crashed Pontiac. Fischer’s sculpture that resembles an ordinary wood table likewise borrows too directly from Ray’s 1989 “Tabletop,” which also uses hidden mechanisms to provide special effects.

Fischer’s preposterously big pictures, on nearly 12-by-8 foot aluminum panels, are portraits of people whose faces can’t be seen because they are blocked by images of disproportionally large objects: a sliced chile pepper, a mushroom and a steel bolt that appears to have wilted. Fischer’s men are pushed into the background by similarly Freudian stand-ins for their genitals: a mushy banana, an uprooted turnip and a steel screw that seems to have been made in the same place as Salvador Dali’s melting clocks or Claes Oldenburg’s soft sculptures.

In Fischer’s hands, tragedy is bypassed as history is immediately repeated as farce.

 -- David Pagel

More art reviews from the Los Angeles Times

Gagosian Gallery, 456 N. Camden Drive, (310) 271-9400, through April 7. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

 Image: Urs Fischer exhibition at Gagosian Gallery. Credit: Mats Nordman

Art review: 'B. Wurtz & Co.' at Richard Telles Fine Art

March 29, 2012 |  5:40 pm

 B Wurtz sculpture
Good old American ingenuity doesn’t make the news these days. Nor does the attitude of can-do optimism, which seems to have been squashed by a rising tide of anger, disdain and bitter defeatism.

The spirit of DIY inventiveness lives on at Richard Telles Fine Art, where guest curator Matthew Higgs has brought together 26 works by 11 artists. Titled “B. Wurtz & Co.,” the quietly inspiring selection takes art back to the basics: individuals making things out of just about nothing.

In most religions, that’s a god’s job. But there’s nothing grandiose, overblown or entitled about the humble objects in this refreshing exhibition, which puts salt-of-the-earth honesty and homegrown improvisation front and center.

Most works are abstract, yet none disguises the materials it is made of. Scrap wood, plastic lids, bits of yarn, postal labels, coin wrappers and bottle caps are plainly visible in the casual yet composed pieces by Al Taylor, B. Wurtz, Judith Scott, Udomsak Krisanamis, Gabriel Kuri and Philadelphia Wire Man.

Collage predominates, its cut-and-paste aesthetic given sharp shape in subtly charged works by Richard Hawkins, Joe Fyfe and Vincent Fecteau. Doodling is a virtue in Martin Creed’s crisp compositions. And unsullied emptiness is filled with potential in Noam Rappaport’s clean canvases.

At “B. Wurtz & Co.,” imaginative handiwork never looked better, its democratic impulse a timely reminder of art’s place in everyday life.

-- David Pagel

More art reviews from the Los Angeles Times

Richard Telles Fine Art, 7380 Beverly Blvd., (323) 965-5578, through May 4. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

 Image: B. Wurtz, "Untitled," 2009. Credit: Richard Telles Fine Art

Art review: 'Charles Garabedian: Works from 1966-1976' at L.A. Louver

March 29, 2012 |  5:05 pm

Charles Garabedian Restaurant (The Waitress)
Ever since the avant garde went the way of silent movies, many of the most interesting artists of the last century have cast themselves as lone wolves — solitary souls whose genius is tied to the freedom that comes with being a go-it-alone misfit.

This romantic fantasy is mercilessly mocked by the 10 wickedly original paintings, sculptures and mongrel mash-ups in “Charles Garabedian: Works from 1966-1976.” In L.A. Louver’s upstairs gallery, the 88-year-old artist’s cock-eyed pictures and fractured forms replace the macho bravura of the lone wolf with the scraggily raggedness (and whiplash unpredictability) of a stray dog.

The two earliest works, “Daytime T.V.” and “Restaurant (The Waitress),” are scruffy, ill tempered and out of whack, both compositionally and emotionally. Each cranks up the loneliness of Edward Hopper’s best paintings, transforming the promise of solitude into the despair of distraction gone wrong. Their curdled surfaces look dirty. With uncanny efficiency, Garabedian makes looking feel like leering.

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Art review: Frederick Hammersley at L.A. Louver

March 29, 2012 |  4:35 pm

Frederick Hammersley, "Board and room"

Joy is one of those things that you have to experience for yourself. Reading about someone else’s just doesn’t cut it. And trying to tell people when and where to experience joy is humorously futile: It’s simply impossible to persuade people to be joyous.

Fortunately, art goes far beyond persuasion — and way beyond rational explanation — especially when it’s as lovely and loaded as Frederick Hammersley’s. At L.A. Louver, Hammersley’s first solo show in Los Angeles since his death in 2009 at 90, shows the mildly reclusive artist at his best: spreading joy by treating it as a gift — a surprise that comes unexpectedly, unbidden and through no power of one’s own.

Such sensible humility is out of step with the me-first assertiveness that defines our times. But it’s pure Hammersley. In 1968, he got a job teaching at the University of New Mexico and moved from Los Angeles to Albuquerque. Three years later he resigned. The solitude of the Southwest suited him and he stayed in Albuquerque, transforming his little home into a one-man workshop, with rooms dedicated to sketching, painting, reading, frame-building and record-keeping. For decades he painted in near anonymity.

His oils on canvas, many in hand-carved frames, are homemade and humble, each a smattering of intensely colored shapes curiously snuggled together or set side by side, their geometric perfection complicated — but not contradicted — by the slippery asymmetry of their patterning, which is punchy and funky and animated by participatory rhythms.

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Arts on TV: San Francisco Symphony; 'War Horse'; Dudu Fisher

March 29, 2012 |  5:43 am

Lang Lang San Francisco Symphony

“Globe Trekker” 1:30 p.m. Thursday, KCET: Amsterdam City Guide 2 : The Rijksmuseum boasts a collection of paintings by the Dutch masters; Van Gogh Museum; Anne Frank House; gay parade.

“Exploring the Arts With Gloria Greer” 6:30 p.m. Thursday, KVCR: Michael H. Lord Gallery.

“Open Call” 9 p.m. Thursday, KCET: The Colburn Orchestra.  

“Late Show With David Letterman” 11:35 p.m. Thursday, CBS: A performance from Broadway's “Once.”

“Great Performances” 9 p.m. Friday, KOCE: San Francisco Symphony at 100: Amy Tan hosts the San Francisco Symphony's centennial celebration. Special guests include Itzhak Perlman and Lang Lang.

“Live From the Artists Den” 10 p.m. Friday, KLCS: Grammy nominee Death Cab for Cutie performs at the Brooklyn Museum.

“Making 'War Horse'” 1, 5:30, 8 and 11 p.m. Saturday, KOCE; 2 and 3 p.m. Sunday, KOCE: : Behind the scenes of the National Theatre of Britain's stage production of “War Horse.”

“Yanni — Live at El Morro” 4 p.m. Saturday, KOCE; noon Monday, KOCE:  Yanni performs with his 15-piece orchestra at El Morro, a 16th century citadel in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  

 “Great Performances” noon Sunday, KOCE: "The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater": Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony, brings to life the words and music of the American Yiddish theater in a tribute to his grandparents, Bessie and Boris Thomashefsky. (N)
“Still” 9 p.m. Sunday, KLCS: Painter Clyfford Still was a leader of the Abstract Expressionist movement.  

“American Masters” 9 p.m. Monday, KOCE: Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel : Pulitzer Prize-winning author Margaret Mitchell endured depression and illness until her death in 1949.

“American Masters” 10 p.m. Monday, KOCE: "Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & 'To Kill a Mockingbird'": Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee never published again after “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“Rick Steves' Europe” 7 p.m. Tuesday, KCET: Lisbon and the Algarve : The best of Portugal features Lisbon's Fado singers and ornate architecture.

“Dudu Fisher: In Concert From Israel” 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, KCET: Singer Dudu Fisher performs Broadway tunes and Israeli songs.

— Compiled by Ed Stockly

Photo: Lang Lang in "Great Performances: San Francisco Symphony at 100." Credit: Detlef Schneider.

Art review: Phil Chang at LAXART

March 22, 2012 |  6:00 pm

Phil Chang, "Cache, Active"
Phil Chang’s suite of 21 photographic works at LAXART look like slabs of old milk chocolate that’s just about to turn white. Each work is actually a piece of expired photographic paper exposed with either a negative or various objects placed directly on top. The paper was then left unfixed, which means the images were never set, and the works kept “developing” as they were exposed to light in the gallery. Hence their smooth, chocolate-y sameness.

Each however, has a rather evocative title like “Sea #2” and “Woman, Laughing.” Searching for traces of these images is a bit like looking at an Ad Reinhardt black painting — a rather existential experience as you search for minute variations in the darkness. Chang’s work did bring a smile as I searched in vain for some evidence of something as simple as “Three Sheets of Thin Paper.” But the chocolate refused to give anything up.

In this sense, the exhibition is both the aftermath of the work and an integral part of its making, a paradox that points to the tension between making art and exhibiting it. Does viewing complete the piece? And conversely, can a work be said to be finished if no one ever sees it? By blurring the line between making and exhibiting, Chang’s enigmatic show reminds us, quite starkly, that the conditions under which we look at art largely determine what we see, and whether we recognize it as art at all.


More art reviews from the Los Angeles Times

-- Sharon Mizota

LAXART, 2640 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 559-0166, through April 14. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Photo: Phil Chang, "Cache, Active" installation view. Credit:  LAXART, Los Angeles.


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