Mira Schor’s Chthonic Garden at CB1 Gallery by Katy Durbin

Mira Schor’s Chthonic Garden is currently on display at the CB1 Gallery in downtown Los Angeles. In this show, Mira Schor is attempting to break from the more traditional conceptions of art, time, and space. There is an irony in the title; Schor takes “chthonic” for its literal meaning of subterranean, rather than its spiritual one of underworld. This further distances her work from a traditional format, by pushing it away from normal interpretations of spirituality. However, there is a definite psychological feel to her pieces, which is more palpable in some than in others. While her Reversible Painting: Map appears as a simple play on space and orientation, her multiple I Want to Let You Know that I am Real” paintings have a dark, subconscious quality to them, that touch on the human psyche and feelings of intrusion upon the individual by social order and regulation. This is then compared to the physical order of ground versus sky, and its connection with our own perceptions. Two paintings use the gallery space to enhance the sense of disorientation: Underground Garden is mirrored by an upside down replica across the gallery.

Although I found the message of Schor’s work interesting, her work was dull, and might have more attention-grabbing if the paintings did not look like the artist had done each one in ninety seconds. One of the pieces even had visible lines covered with white paint; it appeared that the artist had decided to do a painting similar to another style featured in a few of her works, then changed her mind and hastily painted over it. Perhaps this was intentional, though it did not appear to be so, and I could see no reason for it. The message was too reliant on visual acknowledgement of spacial orientation to merit this extremely lax attitude towards technique. The work was highly conceptual, yet there remained an air of laziness about her pieces, which was distracting. All in all, though, her paintings maintained a pleasing theme; the subject matter was dark, with subjects buried underground and speech bubbles hovering above, containing imposing, slightly menacing comments. She achieved an element of horror in her otherwise playful work, and, even with the lack of clean application or process, the exhibit holds together well under a unifying message of the imposition of order clashing with a reversal of spaces.

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