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Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions:
Doug Simay's Best Picks

Willem DeKooning
at L&M (Venice (660 Venice Blvd) through Jan. 15).
The New York gallery’s new Venice space is wonderful and adds another vital reason to trek out to LA Louver.  The main gallery is filled with DeKooning (1904-1997) paintings from the 1980’s.  Between this exhibition and Joan Mitchell at Gagosian it is easy to be enthralled with the creativity of America’s abstract expressionist progenitors.

John Mason
at Frank Lloyd (Bergamot through Dec. 1).
Mason was born in 1927.  He was studio-mate with Peter Voulkos until Voulkos moved to Berkeley.  Both these Modernists helped move ceramics from craft into the fine art realm.  The recent works in this exhibition demonstrate the finesse of an 83 year old Los Angeles master.

C.K. Wilde
at Rosamund Felsen (Bergamot through Dec. 22).  Collage is a very difficult technique in which to mark professional expertise.  Wilde makes his “mark” well.  To quote the erudite gallery press release: “… a wholly new and creative approach to collage…a disruptive medium bent on social scrutiny, while unlocking…superb narrative potential.”

Yigal Ozeri
at Mark Moore (Bergamot through Dec. 18).  Ozeri paints so realistically that it seems the model's hair and the snow in which she romps can be physically touched. The model, Lizzie Jagger, portrays a sense of bored entitlement - an insouciance that leads me to shift my interest from the technical skills of the painter to the model’s genealogy . Lizzie is the daughter of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall.

Martin Mull 2006
Martin Mull
at Samuel Freeman (Bergamot through Dec. 18).
Mull sources his imagery from photos of “family America”.  The implied-narrative paintings are “buried tensions; tattered aspirations”.   There is nothing klutzy about his ability to intimate a dark story.

Martin Mull 2010

Brian Forrest
at Craig Krull (Bergamot through Jan. 8).  Forrest makes dark photographs of forests - or at least the SoCal equivalent of forests.  In this exhibition, the viewer walks in on very dark, photographic diptychs.  But with a little time and dark vision recovery increasing details become evident in the underbrush of Forrest’s imagery.  The reflection of the viewer in the glazing of the artwork becomes an added dimension to art/viewer immersion.  I am reminded of John Divola and Philipp Rittermann.

Alberto Burri
at Santa Monica Museum of Art (Bergamot through Dec. 18).
Alberto Burri (1915-1995) is considered an Italian artist - a proto Arte Povera guy.  But Burri spent 28 years worth of winters living in the Hollywood Hills.  Considering his materials (burlap bags, ceiling tiles, burned plastic, general-jetsam) it seems obvious how influential life in SoCal must have been.  This exhibition is scholarly enough to illustrate and teach.  It is exemplary museum practice.

Rochelle Botelo
Rochelle Botello
, Jeff Foye and Gordon Winiemko at Angels Gate (San Pedro through Jan. 8).  Angels Gate presents nearly 30 artists in a show called “To Live and Draw in LA”.  This is a very well done exhibition.  Across the field it is strong.  At the entrance to the exhibition is a single-monitor video by Foye and Winiemko.  In their video we alternately see two men sit at a table; appearing to face each other though never seeing them both in the same frame.  The video follows their eye movements and shows them sketching in sketchbooks.  The artwork seems to be about “looking“, “seeing”, “reacting”, “acting”.   The entire exhibition demonstrates the humanity and relevance of drawing.

Foye & Winiemko

Darren Hostetter
at Sam Lee (Chinatown through Dec. 30).
Hostetter has a very funny large wall drawing in the Angels Gate show.  I am happy to see it as I have only been familiar with his work as in this solo show at Sam Lee.  I am ever more aware of Hostetter’s very wry sense of things.  The paintings in this Sam Lee show are sort of a “Jane’s Fighting Ships” compendium of the machines of war and death (planes and guns) arranged like decorative snowflake crystals.  The almost abstract geometry of the painting’s composition gives way to curiosity about the catalog of machines on view.

Brett Lund
at Thomas Solomon (Chinatown through Jan. 15).
Lund’s sculptures are affecting.  At their base they nod to the Modernist idiom as in Barbara Hepworth or Duchamp-Villon but then receive a graffiti applique.  Lund’s spray-paintings on paper demonstrate his expertise with the tagger’s medium.

Alex Katz
at Michael Kohn (Hollywood through Jan. 6).
Michael Kohn celebrates 25 years of exhibitions with a selection of works by artists he has represented.  In our conversation I remember each and all of Kohn’s galleries. I have seen most of his shows.  One of the wonderful aspects of participating in the art of my region is the option to actually be present as history is laid down.

Mercedes Helnwein
at Merry Karnowsky (Hollywood closing). 
My favorite painting themes are portraits and landscape.  Helnwein’s very large oil pastel on paper drawings are drop-dead gorgeous. She is the daughter of the Viennese artist Gottfried Helnwein.  She credits John Register (among others) as a significant influence.  I also see Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo in her portraits.  Even though Helnwein divides her time between LA and Ireland her work seems rooted in the “American True Story”.  They are “quietly bizarre and cinematic“.

Lisa Sanditz
at ACME (mid Wilshire through Dec. 18).
Landscape being another favorite theme - I take notice of any who portray landscape in a unique and distinctive way.  Sanditz, an expressionist painter, has a Hockneyesque sense of theatrical color. 

Ryan Sullivan
at Marc Selwyn (mid Wilshire through Dec. 23).
Sullivan shines in Selwyn’s four artist group show.  His paintings are oil and latex on canvas.  The painting surface is both flat and modeled.  The surfaces are both real and illusionistic.  I know I am being perceptually manipulated and I enjoy the experience.

Angela Kallus
at Peter Mendenhall (mid Wilshire through Dec. 30).
Angela Kallus is a 2003 UNLV MFA.  I just love her rich, thick and luscious color.  The color is so important that the pigment is sculptural.  Paintings in the exhibition are either applique of hundreds of hand-crafted pigment roses or a thick pigment layer that has been deftly troweled into a luminous tondo.  Her skill is impeccable.  The paintings look good enough to eat.  They seem to be totally involved with the concept of “painting” (as a verb).


Joan Mitchell
at Gagosian (Beverly Hills through Dec.23). 
Three months ago Manny Silverman showed Mitchell paintings from 1956 through 1976.  The huge diptychs on view here are from the last 10 years of her life (1925-1992).  WOW.!!!  Tremendous mature work that  looks superb in the heroic white vaults of Gagosian’s Beverly Hills space.  I am glad not to have missed this experience.

Olmec 400AD
The new Resnick Pavilion is quietly understated Renzo Piano.  It is a tremendous addition to this world class museum campus.  Seeing, up close, the Olmec sculptures (through Jan. 9) is a big deal.  I am not a fan of textiles and clothing - normally.  But, “Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail 1700-1915” (through March 6) is a phenomenally interesting show; well mounted.  This has to be one of the finest exhibitions of its ilk we are likely to see anywhere at anytime.

Nathalie Djuberg @ Blum & Poe
Stop.Move at Blum & Poe (Culver City through Dec.23).  The whole gallery space is given over to moving image - more specifically stop motion film/video/animation.  In total there are 5 artists being shown - a cross section of techniques and purposes.  Each of the artist’s work is very accessible and worth the time it takes to see moving image.  In particular I highly recommend the three channel video of Noritoshi Hiakawa.  The intertwining channels tell an engaging story.  Of particular note is the use of dance sequences magnificently choreographed by Karole Armitage (“the punk ballerina” trained by Balanchine and Cunningham). This is a must see piece.

Aaron Sheppard at Western Project (Culver City through Dec.23).
Sheppard received his 2009 MFA from University of Nevada Las Vegas - a current power center in graduate art training.  Artists coming out of UNLV seem to be conceptually aware and interested in making art objects (frequently beautiful art objects).  Sheppard’s work nods to Donald Judd and Mario Merz -- but has a punk-attitude overlay.  I should not be surprised to see how “bad boy” behavior seems always in fashion.

Hilja Keading at Angles (Culver City through Dec.18).  Keating has created an effective environment to present her two channel video showing a brown bear and the artist sharing a bedroom. Between the huge bear and the pale artist there exists vignettes of wild/domestic, peaceful/threatening, master/slave, friend/lover, one-world/broader-world.  There are several small paintings that round out this exhibition.  The whole package is sensitive and creative.

Hilja Keading

Merwin Bellin
Merwin Belin and Matthew Brandt at CardwellJimmerson (Culver City through Dec.18).  CardwellJimmerson pulls together another bang-up exhibition.  They have plumbed conceptualism in our midst, LA County, and present smart art by smart artists.  Of the four artists in “Genre Studies” I am most affected by Belin and Brandt.  Belin’s collaged work repositions history and can only really be understood by those of us who lived through it (the Kennedy presidency through the Doug Christmas art scandals).  Matthew Brandt’s sculpture (only partially pictured here) is a old fashioned electronic clock that derives its 110 volt power via and through printed circuit boards that are serially connected by power cord to the wall socket.  It is a graphic lesson that reminds me that our current compact, behemoth data, high bandwidth, computer-lives are built upon advanced printmaking.  It is built upon etched copper-on-board photolithography.  The image etched in copper that serves as a conduit for electricity in Brandt’s sculpture is of the work bench holding the very clock that is physically present on the left.  ’Tis a technologic hall of mirrors.

Matthew Brandt 

Get out, look at art, have fun.
Doug Simay 12/14/2010 

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