Monthly Archives: October 2013

“Redactor” at Mark Moore Gallery

“Redactor” by Ryan Lewis at Mark Moore Gallery presented a series of abstract paintings. The media he used include enamel, crystalina, glass powder, pigment, cold wax, glass film, tape, and vinyl on both wood panels and canvases. While the canvases themselves lacked paint, the materials mimicked layered paint in a Jackson Pollock fashion. They felt painterly but also industrial. I attribute it to the relatively neutral color palette and you know, the harder manufactured materials used in the works. I also feel like it had a relationship to the gallery floor that made it feel more industrial because the ground was worn looking and in shades of grey.

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I found getting up close to see the texture created by layers of materials rewarding, especially catching glimpses of tape tears, something resembling silver tape, and this dot patterned material I cannot identify. The rawness of edges gave off a very spontaneous and primal feel. And although chaotic and fragmented, the paintings remained a sense of calm because of the singular horizontal or slightly diagonal direction the “strokes” tended to move in. Certain areas of the paintings had some transparency which I found really delicate in contrast to the aggressive strokes. Despite all the disjointed and jagged elements involved, the paintings felt unified.

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The gestures of these paintings actually reminded of Margaret’s work, although different in many ways. One of my take-aways from the show was seeing the use of unconventional materials. Painting is not limited to paint and it’s all good. It’s encouraging for me to explore a wide range of materials in the future. As someone interested in using wood as canvas, it was also nice to see how somebody else decided to treat that surface. It’s also just fun to look at abstract work when I usually prefer figurative.

I enjoyed the show and it will be up till November 16 for anyone who’s interested in going.  I also really liked Kim Rugg’s exhibition that’s also currently showing at the Mark Moore Gallery. They’re not paintings but I think they’re really neat. She reorganizes newspaper articles and maps. It’s cool stuff.

Kelly Guan

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“Solace of the Sword” at ACE Gallery

Phil Frost was one of the featured artists at Ace Gallery, Los Angeles. There were 18 pieces showcased in “Solace of the Sword,” and I was instantly captured by the vibrant colors and the tribal patterns that appear in every one of his pieces. He repeatedly paints large white mask-like tribal faces layered on top of neon geometric shapes and occasionally the work will include objects glued to them, such as toy cars or scraps of metal cans.

Tournquet” was his main piece in the gallery and largest of his work showcased. The scale of the painting immediately attracted me to it, and as I got closer, the level of intricate detail and the use of an assortment of media caught my attention. It was interesting to notice that there were almost an infinite amount of different faces one could find in just one painting. In addition, the way Frost layers the geometric shapes creates a 3-dimensional effect where some faces pop out at the viewer and others fade to the background. He included several 3-dimensional objects in his work, including tops of metal cans, small rocks, and other unrecognizable parts of objects. This piece seemed to be an ode to the “internal struggles” involved in painting, which he mentions in his current artist statement in relation to this exhibition. It also relates back to the title of his exhibition, “Solace of the Sword.” In his statement, he mentions the struggle with solitary confinement that is required in order to successfully create. To me, this idea is conveyed through the white masks creating an obvious barrier to the chaos of colors and shapes that are behind. The colors in the background are similar to the unbounded creativity that the mind needs to access in order to create artwork.

Frost repeats this theme of white masks on top of a vibrant background in another piece, “Untitled,” 2013. This piece is much smaller (3’ x 2’), however the colors he uses are even more vibrant than in his larger works. There is one large mask that is the central focus surrounded by smaller dull brown masks fading into the background. This was my favorite piece from the exhibition because of its vibrant colors and the figures in it played with the issue of space. I was instantly drawn to the contrast created by the opaque white paint layered on top of the colorful neon background in this one in particular, because it seems that the background is more exposed to the viewer, with only one large mask covering part of the background, unlike the rest of his works. In addition, many of the smaller masks are falling away and fading in the background; this could symbolize a barrier in the creative thinking process being knocked down as ideas begin to flow in. IMG_4560 IMG_4556

 

-Brittany Lala

“The Unpainted Landscape” at Mihai Nicodim Gallery

“The Unpainted Landscape” is a group multimedia show comprised mostly of sculpture.  The show is based on the original “Unpainted Landscape” touring group exhibition from 1987 in Scotland, featuring work by Ian Hamilton Finlay, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Andy Goldsworthy, and David Tremlett.  The artists featured at this new show, Olga Balema, Keltie Ferris, Jack Lavender, and Hannah Lees, were inspired by their predecessors and the concept of the “unpainted landscape.”  They take the ideas from the 1987 exhibition, which consisted of landscape as sculpture in a literal sense with the artists’ use of natural elements, and reexamine them with a contemporary vision.  They reinterpreted the idea of the “unpainted landscape” in a more conceptual way, creating metaphysical landscapes, and referencing cultural, political, and social discourses.  Three of the pieces, Dreams Chunky 2, 4 & 5, by Jack Lavender, are sculptural wall hangings made out of metal bar grids which are bent and folded.  In these grids, which act as sort of metal nets, he has placed multiple items, both ordinary and strange, from a lightbulb to an hourglass.  Two of the other pieces, Tablet IX &X, by Hannah Lees, are smooth, flat plaster tablets with various items, both man-made and from nature, placed within it.  Keltie Ferris also contributes an oil and acrylic abstract painting on canvas, and Olga Balema contributes a mixed media sculpture which lies on the floor in the center of the gallery space.

In Jack Lavender’s sculptures, I see the landscape as being represented by the metal grid, which is reminiscent of topographical maps, and the somewhat random objects seem to be representative of different aspects of our human footprint on this landscape.  The hourglass, of course, always seems to be representative of the passage of time, and these objects, like the crumpled energy drink can, take on the feeling of snapshots of our gradual effect on the world around us.  Hannah Lees sculptures are notable as well, as they capture a capture a similar essence to those of Lavender.  The objects which are placed in these plaster tablets are set inside, with holes in the plaster left for them to be seen, making them reminiscent of fossils.  The objects range from small stones, wood, and animal bones to glass and plastic.  I’m not entirely sure if this was intentional or not, but one of the tablets even has a small nike symbol carved it’s surface.  This juxtaposition of natural elements and very man-made ones seems to be a commentary on, again, our footprint on the landscape in which we live, including industrial and commercial forms.

I found this show to be really interesting.  I loved the way each of these sculptures was able to make a very subtle commentary, getting across their ideas, while still maintaining an actual connection, however vague, to landscape.  Lees’ sculptures were probably my favorite, simply because of their aesthetic value.  Lavenders’ are equally strong conceptually, but not as aesthetically pleasing in a clean and simple way.  I don’t think that Ferris’ and Balema’s works fit as cohesively together with the show, but overall I think it was successful.

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Tablet IX, Hannah Lees, 2013

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Dreams Chunky 5, Jack Lavender, 2013

 

 

-Erin O’Brien

Trang Le at Ruth Bachofner Gallery (Sept 7, 2013-Oct, 12, 2013)

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Desert Sky-Horizons

Trang Le’s series “Threads” at the Ruth Bachofner Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica is beautiful.  Trang Le is a Vietnamese American who lived through the Vietnam War, escaping from Vietnam with her family as a child.  In efforts to heal the pain she experienced as a child caught in a war time environment and the renewed memories as a result of the War on Iraq, she painted 11,978 as a way to remember and treasure the lives of all the men and women who fought in the Iraq War and never came back.  While this particular painting was not at the show, the same techniques creating the waves, lines, and circles in her series “Threads” are clearly evident.  The paintings were presented in a large, brightly lit, open, rectangular room with white walls.  As you entered, you immediately saw one of her thread paintings in front of you, and two rectangular wooden frames carefully laced with colored yarn that mirrored many of her paintings.

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There were about five paintings in her series called “Threads” and two physically threaded boards.  On those wooden boards, she nailed several hundred nails along both edges and weaved the yarn back and forth, from one nail to another.  This motion is replicated again in her paintings.  Up and down. Back and forth. Smooth, never ending motions.  They echo one another.  The yarn pieces draw attention to the physicality of the lines, this motion of pulling and stretching.  It creates a tension, juxtaposed beside a fluidity.  A never ending motion.  Repetition.  The tight circles present in many of her paintings suggest a need for control, but her waves, while very close together, still seem looser.  Le let her lines fall off the edge of the canvas, never restricted by the size of the canvas.  They suggest a timelessness.  An eternity.  A space unknown to the viewer but her lines suggest her strong emotions continue beyond the viewer’s comprehension.  The lines represent patience.

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Midnight After the Rain

 

I really liked Trang Le’s paintings because her strands seemed to go on forever, winding and turning.  I really connected with her when she said she creates these strands in a meditative state and that when she was hurting and needed healing, she would paint these lines.  I loved that her paintings are so organic and natural.  As simple as they seem, I find myself continuously drawn to her work—whether it is the desire to sit on one of her lines and ride the wave, or create something similar myself.   Personally, I was not the biggest fan of her actual wood and yarn threading piece as it didn’t carry the same sophistication and expansiveness as her paintings, and the yarn pieces seemed limited, confined.  They seemed to regress to an age when women wove their own blankets, say back in the 1800s.  But the paintings, despite carrying that same back and forth motion, take this simple idea to great sophistication.

-Kristen Chen

La Gruta Azul at Jancar Gallery

Richard Newton was the featured artist at one of Chinatown’s art galleries, Jancar Gallery. A total of 9 pieces were showcased, with Newton’s “La Gruta Azul” installation as the centerpiece of it all. When I first entered the gallery, I thought I had stepped into the wrong building. My face was greeted by floor to ceiling strings of empty aluminum cans and plastic water bottles in every direction. Newton creates a maze of cans on strings through which you can walk through and enter a cave-like center area completely made of bright blue Pepsi and beer cans. In the center of this space is an open keg of “holy water” glowing neon blue with more glass bottles floating at the top. The floor is also covered with crushed blue cans and visitors are encouraged to kick the cans around because according to Newton, the noise is part of the experience of the installation. I loved this installation; there were so many different elements and small details to discover that one could spend hours walking through the walls of cans. The light shining through the front window also created a dramatic effect when reflected off the shiny cans, however I’m not sure if that was the intended idea.

Walking into this installation made me feel like I was in a vibrant yet calm and soothing, man-made world. The blue lights plus the rush of water provided the peaceful backdrop for exploring this new “world.” To me, it was a peek into the future, where eventually everything created be made from previously recycled products. On the walls of the installation were several molds of Jesus surrounded by broken glass shards. It might have been an analogy to how much society worships products and the convenience of them.

Newton incorporates cans into his two-dimensional work as well. “Lost and Found in the Ozone” is a photograph of flattened tin cans with various aerosol cans attached to the aluminum canvas. Through this piece, it seems the viewer actually realizes the reality of harming the ozone through the overuse of these products. It depicts the overuse and prevalence of cans. It also shows that very old metal does not simply disintegrate; it remains intact for decades.

Ricardo’s Original CANTINA” was another photograph printed on aluminum with additional crushed beer cans attached to the surface.  The photograph was of young groups of people interacting with one of his previous installations, “CANTINA.” When placed in a setting with only recyclable trash as the focus, people surprisingly become very entertained. I think Newton is trying to gather a higher human emotion or response from something that is so ordinary that it is usually considered trash. The people in this photo look like they are enjoying themselves while they kick around the empty cans. By using cans as his only material, it seems that he wanted his viewers to get back to basics in life by forcing them to focus on just one simple ordinary object. Yet, in all of his works he seemed successful in turning trash into an intriguing material.

"La Gruta Azul"

“La Gruta Azul”

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