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Review: 'Thunk' at Khastoo Gallery

July 3, 2009 |  3:00 pm

Thunk The five-artist exhibition “Thunk” at the Khastoo Gallery plays dumb with just the right touch of intelligence, bringing big ideas down to earth. Imagine the sound of a 26-volume encyclopedia hitting the ground after being tossed from the top of an ivory tower and you’ll get a feel for what this fun, free-form show is up to.

Just inside the front door, James Hyde’s “Big Beanbag” sets the intellect on a crash course with reality. The swollen blob of a sculpture, with a diameter of roughly 6 feet, resembles an oversize beanbag chair or a beach ball gone wrong. Made of linen and inflatable packaging material, Hyde’s lumpen abstraction is also a 3-D painting, its surface covered with untidy swipes of acrylic in an organic palette of overripe vegetables and creamy pastels. Hyde makes the misbegotten mélange look unlovely yet sumptuous, a deflated ideal with its own funky spirit.

Jimmy Raskin’s “The [Documentarian’s] Return of the Drunken Boat” — a cavalier stack of plywood, Styrofoam and cement festooned with party decorations, fake seashells and glittery streamers — has the presence of a scarecrow made by a farmer who dreams of being a big-city set decorator. Its charms are barbed.

A pair of Rob Reynolds’ small, rainbow-shaped paintings in arcs of Ad Reinhardt black and disco-ball silver, counteracts the piecemeal funkiness with a sense of urbane restraint. His nearly 8-foot-square oil on canvas, “Untitled (Shadow #1),” gracefully glides from dark blue to even darker blue, showing how much can be done with very few elements.

Alex Olson does something similar in his delicious little paintings. The scribbled shapes in “Cleo” and “Correspondent” come off as being casual yet careful.

The master of transforming incidental gestures into art worth thinking about is Richard Tuttle. Two of his works, “White Snails 3” and “Untitled,” serve as the glue that holds “Thunk” together. Each is so simple that if your kid did it you wouldn’t give it a second thought. But Tuttle gets you to see a folded piece of paper, a couple of squiggles drawn in pencil or a few bits of tape with fresh eyes, as if each mundane mark were a universe with its own pedestrian, everyday beauty.

-- David Pagel

Khastoo Gallery, 7556 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A., (323) 472-6498, through next Friday. Closed Sunday through Tuesday.

Above: James Hyde’s “Big Beanbag.” Credit: Khastoo Gallery