Category: Leah Ollman

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: Daniel Pitin at Mihai Nicodim

March 1, 2012 |  7:00 pm

Daniel Pitin White Ribbon
The materials and references densely layered in Daniel Pitin’s recent paintings at Mihai Nicodim are beyond excavation, and the work is all the richer for feeling just out of reach. Pitin, born and based in Prague, embeds printed matter — ads, scraps of books and newspaper — into his canvases and occasionally writes cryptic snippets across them.

He paints in inky dilutions and viscous crusts, cloudy grays, scorched blacks and seeping yellows. A recognizable subject anchors each painting — a beekeeper standing among his boxes, a woman sitting on the edge of a bed — but suggestion often overtakes description. Narratives elude definition. All the while, the surfaces feel viscerally immediate.

Pitin invokes the past, in part, through television and film stills that he incorporates into his paintings and sequences that he uses as raw material for his own videos.

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Art review: 'Suspension,' video by Reynold Reynolds, Kevin Cooley

March 1, 2012 |  6:00 pm

Kevin Cooley’s “Skyward” makes a perfect endpoint to “Suspension,” an absorbing, two-person show of recent video works at YoungProjects. Most of the gallery is taken up by the work of Berlin-based Reynold Reynolds, every piece an intense excursion into the nature of time and its representation as movement and change, the body and its capacity to endure. Nods to the stop-motion photographs of Marey and Muybridge alternate with discomfiting scenes of physical violation. Scientific and aesthetic inquiry intersect, sometimes with damaging force. In “Burn” (a 2002 collaboration with Patrick Jolly), we watch a man set fire to a bed where a woman sleeps, and another man using a sandwich to tamp out — with disturbing calm — the flames rising from his shirt as he reads. It’s not just the filmed characters who are facing something treacherous.

Then comes the physically and visually quenching “Skyward” (2012). The seven-minute loop is projected on the ceiling, so it is best viewed lying down. That 90-degree shift of position aligns us with the camera, which delivers tracking shots looking upward at the L.A. sky, edged by architecture, fringed by palm trees, sliced by power lines, etched by the paths of birds and planes. The day performs itself as usual, but with our perspective gently recalibrated by the New York-based Cooley, the view feels fresh and new.

-- Leah Ollman

YoungProjects, Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., (323) 377-1102, through March 8. Closed Saturday through Monday.

Images: Left, Reynold Reynolds, "Burn"; right, Kevin Cooley, "Skyward." Credit: From YoungProjects

Art review: 'Seven Young Los Angeles Painters I Like' at George Lawson

March 1, 2012 |  4:00 pm

From its title to its sprightly array of modestly scaled works, “Seven Young Los Angeles Painters I Like,” at George Lawson, exudes refreshing honesty. There is no real agenda in play, but an aesthetic consensus forms around the sufficiency of paint on a flat surface. However self-evident that sounds, it’s a quietly invigorating experience to look at two dozen paintings by emerging artists who subscribe to “old media” and make it new.

One of the painters currently studies at UCLA; the rest earned (or worked toward) their MFAs there, at Claremont Graduate University, California College of the Arts, Otis and the University of Tennessee. Each might be privately ambitious, but none succumbs to the grandstanding arrogance so common these days among young artists eager to set themselves apart from the pack.

Jacob Melchi paints delightfully restless geometric abstractions that tamper with spatial logic. Nano Rubio stages mixed marriages of tight linear patterns and thick, fleshy swaths, permeable and opaque, fluid and solid. Among the rest — Jonathan Apgar, Christopher Kuhn and Anne McCaddon — Sarah Awad stands out for her images of monuments and ruins redolent with the tenuousness of memory, and Rema Ghuloum for “Light, 15th and Harrison at 3pm,” a potent little canvas of warm greenish-gold abutting deep aqua and dark blue-violet, the record — and evocation — of a radiant moment.

-- Leah Ollman

George Lawson Gallery, 8564 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 837-6900, through March 17. Closed Sundays through Tuesdays.

Image: Jacob Melchi, "Diamond 1." Credit: From George Lawson Gallery

Art review: 'Breaking in Two,' visions of motherhood at Arena 1

March 1, 2012 |  3:15 pm

Why is it that the opening chapter of life has never received as much attention in art as the concluding pages? Why are elegy and memorial such established art forms (not just in visual art but in music, poetry) yet no equivalent form addresses birth, much less the ongoing process of raising children?

These aren’t trick questions, nor even difficult ones to answer, given the female-centric nature of these underrecognized subjects. Sexism reigned just as oppressively in the realms of art (creation, distribution and scholarship) as it had in the culture at large until the feminist surge a scant half-century ago helped redefine legitimate aesthetic territory. Now, women artists enjoy at least nominal equality with their male counterparts, though issues of the maternal, if no longer taboo in art, remain largely on the periphery.

“Breaking in Two: Provocative Visions of Motherhood,” at Arena 1,  puts those themes front and center. Organized by artist Bruria Finkel, and graced with the Pacific Standard Time imprimatur, the show features work from the 1960s to the present by some 40 Southern California artists (including a few collectives), among them Eleanor Antin, Kim Abeles, Alison, Lezley and Betye Saar, Jo Ann Callis, Channa Horwitz, Renee Petropoulos, Astrid Preston, Linda Vallejo, Ruth Weisberg, Lita Albuquerque and June Wayne.

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Art review: Izhar Patkin at Shoshana Wayne

February 2, 2012 |  7:00 pm

Izhar Patkin, "The Dead are Here"
“The Dead are Here,” at Shoshana Wayne, presents work from a series by Izhar Patkin that has a beautiful, provocative back story, one with more staying power than the work itself. The centerpiece of the show is a roofless room (29 x 22 feet) whose interior walls are draped with painted tulle from their upper edge nearly to the floor 14 feet below. The theatricality of the space makes a strong first impression. One steps from the plain and practical exterior (like the backside of a stage set) into an evanescent realm, more vivid than life but elusive. The delicate, translucent fabric falls in soft pleats, the images painted upon them repeating but resisting firm definition: trees in radiant pink blossom; cemetery headstones receding in rows; a man, woman and a few dogs resting at the base of some statues. The effect is dreamlike, momentarily startling. Its magic gradually fades.

The installation is one of several veiled rooms that Patkin, Israeli-born and based in New York, has made in response to the writings of Kashmiri American poet Agha Shahid Ali. They met in 1999, brought together by a commission from a publisher. Two years later, Ali died of brain cancer, having composed aloud his final poem, “The Veiled Suite.” Its allusions to vision, truth, love and illusion are rich, as are Patkin’s references (discussed in a catalog) to the mystical Jewish notion of a “cosmic curtain” drawn around human experience. But little of this depth infuses the work itself, a beautiful but fleeting spectacle.

-- Leah Ollman

Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 453-7535, through Feb. 18. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Image: Izhar Patkin, "The Dead are Here." From Shoshana Wayne Gallery and Izhar Patkin, photo by Gene Ogami.

Art review: Lita Albuquerque at Craig Krull

February 2, 2012 |  6:30 pm

Lita Albuquerque, "Wind-Painting-01.05.12"
Lita Albuquerque has long trafficked in the elements, in the patterns of the cosmos and the promise of alchemy. Hints of both the earthly and the lofty emerge in her recent paintings and sculptures at Craig Krull. The show complements an ephemeral piece that Albuquerque staged during last month’s Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival. Albuquerque’s work feels most resonant when in dialogue with the profundity of the earth itself, and matching its scale — in the Mojave desert, among the pyramids of Egypt, in the icy expanse of Antarctica. The works here in the gallery feel slight and static in comparison.

A cast of her body enrobed in brilliant, blue powdered pigment balances on a small aluminum block atop a larger pedestal.The form has a stiffness and heaviness to it that defy its levitating pose. A trio of gold-leafed jumpsuits hangs freely in front of a wall painted that same intense cobalt blue, but the piece feels amateurish and inert, offering little beyond the chromatic juxtaposition’s optical buzz. The simplest and most affecting of the works are a group of “Wind Paintings” that Albuquerque made by letting the earth’s own breath scatter red pigment across wet blue canvas, shaping dense plumes and wispy films. Titled by date and precise time of their enactment, the paintings are physical records of transient performances, true (and beautiful) collaborations between natural forces and aesthetic intent.

-- Leah Ollman

Craig Krull Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 828-6410, through Feb. 25. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Image: Lita Albuquerque, "Wind Painting 01.05.12 3:33:10pm PST." From the artist and Craig Krull. Photo: Brian Forrest.


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