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Art review: Elias Hansen and the Reader at the Company

February 2, 2012 |  5:00 pm

Elias Hansen, "We made it far enough"
Whatever Elias Hansen looks to be cooking up in his arrangements of beakers and buckets at the Company, his enterprise feels somewhat private, surreptitious. Could be moonshine, could be meth. Mostly, the sculptural set-ups of hand-blown glass, rough-cut wood, rubber tubing, water and light bulbs feel like props in a narrative of personal exploration, experimentation, expanded consciousness. They complement well the other half of this intriguing two-person show: bold declarations painted on wood and printed on posters by the street artist who goes by the Reader, among other names.

The two are old friends from Washington, where Hansen lived before moving to upstate New York. The Reader, who recently had his first gallery show in Seattle, has made his anonymous/eponymous mark nationally on buildings by covering them with giant letters spelling out READ. His DIY literacy campaign’s most compelling gesture here is a black and white drawing in lumber crayon on a large (66-by-81-by-10 inches) surface of repurposed planks. “OPEN YOUR EYES” commands a drawn banner stretched across the image of an open book, three alert, disembodied eyes hovering in a triangle around it.

The Reader, "Criminal Fraternities"
The Reader’s stickers, book, zine and screenprints are similarly insistent and appealingly rough-edged. He, too, is making a case for expanded consciousness, as graphic and publicly-oriented as Hansen’s is esoteric, intimate even. There’s a raw poetry in the work of both artists, and a good deal of endearing, earnest mischief.

-- Leah Ollman

The Company, 955 Chung King Road, (213) 290-0122, through Feb. 25. Closed Sunday through Tuesday.

Images, from top: Elias Hansen, "We made it far enough" and the Reader, "Criminal Fraternities." Both images from the artists and the Company.