Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions:
Doug Simay's Best Picks
Late summer shows invariably are largely survey or group exhibitions. Such is the case in the current LA art scene. I remember in rosier economic times that most dealers took the last half of August off to have a little personal R&R time. Not this year. Regardless of the stated reasons (from “having too many projects on the wish list” to “paying overhead”) most dealers will be open and in action - rolling right in to the season’s inaugural exhibitions in early September. Too bad. We all need the rejuvenation that comes with personal R&R.
Tony Berlant at LA Louver (Venice through August 28).
The artist’s name is synonymous with nailed, tin collage. In this exhibition of his most current work we are given the chance to see the role that photography has always played in his work. In these “paintings” the dominant theme and spirit is conveyed by altered photographs that have been printed onto the painting’s substrate. Affixed tin, nailed on top of the images gives the work dimension and psychological meaning. This work will give any fan of Berlant a huge boost in insight about his artistic process.
Connie Jenkins at Craig Krull (Bergamot through August 28).
Connie Jenkins’ specific interest has been painting streambeds and the littoral region. She is more than an accomplished realist. I think this newest body of work is her finest. This realism is about the “perceptual territory between abstraction and illusion”. These paintings are as multi-perceptual as the Photo-realist titan, Richard Estes. Great body of work.
Michael Kenna at Craig Krull (Bergamot through August 28).
Michael Kenna has so dominated and defined atmospheric, long exposure landscape photography that I need to be reminded that I am not looking at an imitator - but the real artist. It helps to see the work, each piece individually framed, rather than a book of collected images of place. His work is poetic and perceptive. The work of this master defines the concept of “beauty.”
Jacci Den Hartog at Rosamund Felsen (Bergamot through August 14). Stanton Macdonald Wright was a major mid-20th century painter (living in LA) who fostered concepts called Synchromism, the synesthesia of two senses: representing hearing sounds through the chromatic visuals of painting. Den Hartog is a three dimensional Synchromist. From the gallery’s abstract: “Jacci Den Hartog’s new art works are portrayals of her experience of being in landscape. …large sculptures made of colorfully painted modeling medium, formed over steel armatures, which spring from the wall… They are the result of distilling the ephemeral experience of being in landscapes– remembering the colors, the light, and textures, describing the passage of time spent in those places. They condense and solidify evanescent experiences yet exist as enduring objects.”
Jennifer Wolf at Samuel Freeman (Bergamot through August 7).
In a group show of women artists, the one artwork by Wolf offers great expectation for what is yet to come from this 2010 Otis MFA. This wall construction/installation is fabricated from mylar and colored with handmade paints.
Phillip Griswold at Ruth Bachofner (Bergamot through Sept. 4).
Griswold’s paintings are washed out, dreamlike landscapes with “conflated” realism. Figurative, quasi-narrative enigmas - they are like mirages on a hot day.
Karen Ann Myers at Luis De Jesus (Bergamot through August 7).
If one assumes that the central, foreground figure in a figurative painting sets the tone for a painting’s intention - the precise introduction to the process of “entering” (viewing) a painting, then Myers’ central female figures seem haphazardly wrought. In short order and due to my disinterest in the apparent “center of interest”, I found my self going to the painting’s background. It is here that the artist’s considerable skills in rendering, pattern painting, and design reign. Her painting of textures, reflectivity, and pattern are exquisite. I know from this that she is capable of painting a figure in fine style. So she must be de-emphasizing the manner in which her paintings are “entered” in favor of a more global experience of the work. That makes them more abstract than figurative/narrative.
Charles Christopher Hill at Cirrus (Downtown through August 14).
Cirrus has been a formidable and constant force in the LA art world. In Jean Milant’s current group show I was overjoyed to see one tremendous artwork each by Charles Christopher Hill and Jay McCafferty. When I was but a slip of an art’s tourist back in the very late 1970’s their work was amongst my earliest experiences in LA. This large CC Hill piece is sewn paper and fabric executed in 1971. It looked archival back in the 70’s and today seems venerable. Terrific piece.
David Hollen at Bert Green (Downtown through August 18).
Bert Green’s exhibitions continue to offer the best of the new in LA’s artscape. Hollen’s sculptures are made of stainless steel cable, wire, and connectors - with attached “decoration” (in this case quartered Super Balls). Effective sculpture it resonates and magnifies the work of David Grant, Ann Mudge, and Michael Gonzalez.
Doug Edge at CardwellJimmerson (Culver City through August 14).
Damon Cardwell and Tom Jimmerson present another terrific historically relevant exhibition with work spanning 1965 to the present. Presenting an eclectic selection of 20 works, Edge is obviously a thinker. He was conceptually driven back before LA conceptualism was definable. In love with materials, Edge uses new materials in new artistic ways. His use of the various forms and manipulations of plastics is Southern California
Doug Edge - detail
Nery Gabriel Lemus at Charlie James (Chinatown through August 21). Charlie James seems to favor work with a message (usually a political, social message). Lemus’ work is about the intersection of Black and Latino cultures. It is a perspective that offers a chance to re-examine the, for me more common, views of Black and Anglo.
James Nares -detail
at Michael Kohn (West Hollywood through August 21).
Nares executes these paintings using special brushes while being physically suspended above the canvas. Each painting is one continuous pearlescent-paint brushstroke across an iridescent background. They are more gestural and reductive than work by David Reed.
at ACME (mid Wilshire through August 7).
Christopher Miles, known to me as an art critic/writer, presents a wonderful and seductive group of stoneware and cement sculptures that appear to me as a cross between Peter Voulkos and Robert Arneson. Seems that Miles is also a good artist.
Caitlin Lonegan at ACME (mid Wilshire through August 7).
Ms. Lonegan is a newly minted (2010 UCLA) MFA seen here in her first solo show. Hers are unique abstract paintings. Her technique of transparent oil appears like emulsion on canvas. It should not surprise me that she has formal training in physics as her visceral painting seems to invoke wet-chemistry. They are like giant Polaroid pull-sheets.
Emile Bernard 1889
The Hammer has really rich offerings. There is an installation by Diana Al-Hadid (through August 15). In this installation, as she often does, her architectural sculpture invokes both creation and destruction. For those who have never been in an Al-Hadid installation this is a fine example of her deeply textured work.
The Hammer along with the UCLA Grunwald Center has acquired the archive of 43 print portfolios executed since 1988 by Jacob Samuel (a Santa Monica printmaker). The internationally significant artists with whom he has worked in producing this archive are diverse and viewing/studying this exhaustive exhibition is very rewarding (through August 29).
If time permits, the 72 minute long video by Parisian artist Eric Baudelaire (through Sept. 26) is very absorbing.