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Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Doug Simay’s Best Picks


Lily Simonson at CB1 (Downtown through July 29).
Lily Simonson displays bipolar tendancies: abstract painting - figurative realism, blacklight painting - white light painting, science - art.  She operates in contradictory “camps” with tenacity and true dedication.  I am not sure one can be a “master of all“, but enlightened, whole-worldliness is to be admired. 


Joe Suzuki at Sam Lee (Chinatown through July 13).
This exhibition pairs the Suzuki brothers.  While they may share genes, their unique expressions are quite individual.  Joe is expressively nuts.  He makes sculpture appearing constructed from materials it is not.  This Pop skateboarder is made from canvas - like a disciple of Claes Oldenburg.


Yue Minjun at Carmichael (Culver City through June 30).
In all the years that I have seen Yue Minjun’s paintings, I have never seen anything but variations on his theme of the laughing man.  So while I can spot a Minjun from a long way off, I continue to be sucked in; intrigued to see the work again.  Like a fast food burger, sometimes the predictable, reproducible, reward of the familiar is too hard to say “no” to.


Allison Schulnik at Mark Moore (Culver City through July 7).
Perhaps I am attracted to Schulnik’s work because it so singularly “her”.  When I was at the Nerman Museum in Kansas City, their Schulnik was like a beacon from the “home coast”.  Nothing says Allison Schulnik like portraits that are gobs of thick paint, darkly applied, and narratively weird .


Kehinde Wiley at Roberts & Tilton (Culver City through July 28).
This Wiley is in a group show called “The Road Ahead”.  There is an overarching rationale for the artists and works exhibited in this exhibition.  Be that as it may - this is the first time I have seen a Kehinde Wiley sculpture and it quite impressed me.


Michael Kindred Knight at Luis de Jesus (Culver City through July 14).
The small, square paintings by Knight are immediately engaging.  My first view had me double-take wondering if I was nearsightedly experiencing an Alexej Von Jawlensky.  With suggestion of architecture, Knight’s structured abstractions are the stuff that can be terrific painting.


Anna Betbeze at Francois Ghebaly (Culver City through July 7).
Betbeze’s work is “historical” - like reading the stains on a carpet.  The tapestry-like wool “slabs” reflect the history of actions.  They intimate a narrative in their messy exuberance.  I feel like I am looking at a pathology specimen magnified - there being a lot more suggestion rather than facts.


Brian Porray at Western Project (Culver City closing).
Porray’s mixed media collaged paintings are exuberant psychedelic, Rosenquist-like meanderings.  They don’t mean anything.  They are explosively undeniable.  Porray is a 2010 MFA from UNLV. I have come to expect that UNLV graduate students are unabashedly “loud”, confident, and well grounded in the fundamentals of good painting. 


Andrea Cohen at Walter Maciel (Culver City through July 7).
Ms. Cohen’s hydrocal sculptures are impressed with bubble wrap and architectonically become a cross between Chinese landscapes and sculpture by Jean Dubuffet.  I am reminded of the contemporary work of Adrian Saxe seen at Frank Lloyd this last December.


Colin Doherty at Walter Maciel (Culver City through July 7).
After 15 years living in LA, Colin Doherty moved to Kentucky and now seems held in awe of this new landscape much as the Precisionists were in the mid 20th century.


Zhu Jinshi at Blum & Poe (Culver City through July 7).
This exhibition showcases 20 years of this Beijing artist’s work.  His heavily impastoed art inculcates both the gesture of Chinese calligraphy and the vigor of Western Action painting.  On the Western side of interpretation, I am reminded of Hans Hoffman and the late work of Joan Mitchell.


Robert Smithson
MOCA-Geffen (Downtown) Land Art in the 70’s (through Sept. 3) and Cai Guo-Qiang (through July 30).
Both these exhibitions at the Geffen are documentations - so to experience one must do a lot of reading and a lot of video watching.  Watching a 33 minute video of the construction of Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970) is the high point of the Land Art show.

Cai Guo-Qiang
Cai Guo-Qiang’s pyrotechnics are fantastic.  His huge performance called “Black Ceremony” executed in 2011 at MATHAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar is phenomenal.  This was a daytime performance.  The daytime shyrockets burst colored pigment against a crystal blue sky.  His pyrotechnics are Rube Goldberg taken to high tech; like Fischli and Weiss’ “The Way Things Go.”


Kevin Scianni at Ann 330 (La Brea through July 1).
It is the manner and exactitude in which fine lines are created and the way in which they sharply bend and refract within the pictoral plane that animates these paintings.  What appears at first glance to be straightforward, is scarcely that.  I can’t imagine how much time goes into constructing these works.


Lucien Clergue at Louis Stern (West Hollywood through August 4).
Clergue’s nudes define classic Modernist photography. Clergue’s work is the way Picasso would use a camera, if that were Picasso’s thing.  Clergue is the Ansel Adams of the nude.  This is a beautiful show.


Justin Beal at ACME (mid Wilshire through July7)
Justin Beal likes to make stuff.  He likes to find new materials and then invent new ways to use them.  These nickel plated, cast aluminum pieces are whacky but at the same time really smart and highly controlled.  Crazy like a fox.


Adam Miller at Steve Turner (mid Wilshire through June 30).
Miller’s wildly expressive drawings in heavy oil stick demand attention.  Don’t read the gallery’s press release for this show with its turgid suppositions.  Turgid is not a quality of this explosive work.


“The Floor Show” at Gagosian (Beverly Hills through July 28).
All of the work in this group exhibition lies on the floor - as subjected to gravity as they can be.  There is work by Carl Andre, Robert Morris, Robert Therrien, Rachel Whiteread, Mike Kelley, and Tom Sachs (amongst others).  This is a pleasing show of blue-chip goods.


Meg Cranston
Made in L.A. 2012 at the Hammer (Westwood through Sept 2.)
This exhibition is a 10 on a scale of 10.  With 60 artists being shown across 3 venues in the city, this first large scale biennial by the Hammer is stupendous.  To name favorites would be a long list (one that includes Liz Glynn, Channa Horwitz, Ruby Neri, Alex Olson, Laura Riboli, Analia Saban, and Brian Sharp).  This exhibition alone is worth the drive and worth allotting enough time to fully engage.  It is also noteworthy that this is not a "guy" show.  Unlike too many serious art endeavors, 50% of the artists here are women.


Dinh Q. Le at Shoshana Wayne (Bergamot through July 14).
I am fascinated by Dinh Le’s woven photographs.  They are so complex in both technique and aesthetic.  I appreciate the effectiveness of juxtaposing the ruins of the Khmer Angkor complexes with images of Cambodians killed by the Khmer Rouge. His are multifaceted images done with art and understanding.


Francisco Toledo at Latin American Masters (Bergamot through July 7).
Toledo lives in Oaxaca.  His skill with printmaking and layering cutouts is what one would expect from a Mexican master.  These multidimensional works are engrossing.


Jeff Brouws at Craig Krull (Bergamot through July 14).
Brouws scours the country for archetypes.  In this case the subject is the “Franchised Landscape” and images from “After Trinity”.  Every time I see Brouws’ work I am reminded how crystal clear and defined his images are.  I can think of no other landscape photographer (that includes John Divola and John Humble) who presents work in which color is so clearly and sharply “incised” into the image-frame.


Michael Beck at Lora Schlesinger (Bergamot through July 28).
Michael Beck’s paintings are exquisite.  They are much more than photorealist images of antique toys.  They are hyper-realistic, more real than real, and still the conjuring of brush and paint.  The image is seen on close examination to be composed of brushstrokes and pigment.  Yet, the overall impression is to be seeing the real object in it most flattering light.  Beck must certainly be a painter’s painter.


Don Suggs at LA Louver (Venice through June 30).
I have been a fan of Don Suggs’ work for decades.  In this, his 9th show at LA Louver he presents paintings and inkjet prints that continue to plumb color and formalism.  As compared to the color tondos of Gary Lang (which are driven by intuitive, emotional decisions), Suggs’ color circles are based on his “mathematics” of what is “seen” and what is perceived.  So Suggs’ work is cognitively based.

Get out, look at art, have fun.

Doug Simay
6/25/2012
Contact me at: doug@simayspace.com