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Art review: Tam Van Tran at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

March 15, 2012 |  5:15 pm

Tam Van Tran, "Bodhisattva"
There’s enough art in Tam Van Tran’s exhibition at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects to fill three solo shows, and each would be as stimulating and emotionally satisfying as the best exhibitions out there. Quantity and quality dovetail in “Adornment of Basic Space,” giving visitors a wide range of deeply engaging experiences.

Clay and paper are the main ingredients Tran uses to make his paintings and sculptures. To some, he adds recycled beer bottles, chlorophyll and algae, along with thousands of staples.

These unusual materials function formally, adding color, texture and density to Tran’s organically elegant abstractions. They also add meaning, linking his flexible fusions of mismatched media to the environment they are a part of and to the cycle of life, which no one escapes.

Hung on the wall like gigantic butterflies, the three largest works (titled “The Radiance of Awareness I, II, and III”) resemble ceremonial robes and sci-fi blankets, their labor-intensive patterns evoking both microscopic reality and intergalactic vastness.

Five weighty wall-works combine Stone-Age simplicity, DIY ingenuity, cartoon playfulness and art historical acuity in crazy yet calming compositions. Four series of cylindrical sculptures plant their feet firmly in the world of vases and wastebaskets while making such familiar things seem alien. Ten scrappy sculptures, all titled “Bodhisattva,” form a tabletop parade of pint-size monuments to Don Quixote and dreamy idealists everywhere.

-- David Pagel

More art reviews from the Los Angeles Times

Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, 6006 Washington Blvd., (310) 837-2117, through March 30. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Image: Tam Van Tran, "Bodhisattva," 2012. Credit: Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.