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Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Doug Simay’s Best Picks
         Jeff Colson
Conceptual Craft at DENK (DTLA through Oct. 14).
My first gallery visit of this LA trip-cycle was to DENK. Seeing this exhibition was an auspicious start to a
mighty fine set of LA visual arts days.  This eight artist sculpture exhibition is as good a show as there can
be.  The gallery’s press release accurately describes “(uniquely sculptural production preoccupied) with
labor intensive, studio-based practices, and intuitive uses of materials.  In an era of art production still
driven by the conceptual turn, these artists harness intention and concept without sacrificing the deliberate
materiality, technical ingenuity, and facility, involved in the execution of object making.”
All of the works here are memorable – particularly: Colson’s trompe l’oeil fabrications, Hawkinson’s organic
reinvention of a chain, and Pankin’s ceramic follies.
Tim Hawkinson (detail)
Jared Pankin
Monika Sosnowska at Hauser & Wirth (DTLA closing).
This is the first Los Angeles viewing of works by Sosnowska.  I was in Poland last month and understand
the physically and psychologically ravaged landscape reflected in Sosnowska’s sculpture (she is from
Warsaw).  Her work is intensely physical – warped by process and intention.  Her work called “Façade”
(a detail is pictured above) is of a crushed ball of extruded window frames and metal building façade.
After a couple weeks in Poland,  I understand well the hope and despair that is part of the Polish ethos
and reflected in this woman’s artistic practice.
Paul McCarthy at Hauser & Wirth (DTLA closing).
Until this exhibition my opinion of McCarthy was scatologically low.  In this exhibition, huge blocks of
laminated black walnut have been CAD/CAM cut and then hand finished.  The result goes farther than
Jeff Koons’ banality.  In McCarthy’s “tchotchkes”, Snow White becomes a perverse, devouring femme
fatale.  I will not hazard the artist’s intention vis-à-vis the dwarfs.  But they seem more like sexual props
than bumbling characters.
Emiliano Gironella Parra at Jason Vass (DTLA through Oct. 14).
The Getty has launched another initiative – Pacific Standard Time (take two).  This one is devoted to
Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles – thus called LA/LA.  The dozens of venues
across the Southland from Santa Barbara to San Diego will be representing this spirit into 2018.
Helping to initiate the PST: LA/LA spirit is this exhibition by the Mexico City artist, Emiliano Gironella
Parra.  His multifaceted work graphically addresses the violence and injustices suffered by Mexicans
and their children.  We are constantly reminded of the trans-border, drug violence that afflicts the US.  
Parra portrays the equally onerous burden suffered in Mexico.
Martin Ramirez at ICA LA (DTLA through Dec. 31).
The newly opened ICA LA is the transmogrification of the former Santa Monica Museum of Art.  This new
downtown space is wonderful (though parking is a real challenge).  Martin Ramirez (1895-1963) left his
native Mexico to work for the railroad in the US.  When he lost his job in the Great Depression, he
became homeless, was “arrested”, and then spent the final 32 years of his life in state psychiatric
hospitals.  There he used simple materials on found and constructed paper to produce hundreds of
drawings.  Collected by the Chicago artists, Jim Nutt and Gladys Nilsson, and championed by the dealer
Phyllis Kind – Ramirez is a, deservedly, highly regarded “outsider” artist.
There is also a large selection of his works to be seen at Robert Berman in Bergamot Station.
Simphiwe Ndzube at Nicodim (DTLA through Oct. 14).
I apply myself to attending exhibitions across the broad swath of LA.  Many times I have been surprised
seeing quality that I didn’t expect to find.  Attending shows at Nicodim (dating from his early years on
Blackwelder in Culver City) – this exhibition finally rewarded my years of diligent attention.  Ndzube is
from Cape Town, South Africa.  His work is rooted in Zulu competitive practice – the Swenkas.  Proud
working-class men dress in well-tailored clothes and then strut their stuff in a competition called
swenking (in English: swanking).  Ndzube’s large sculptural paintings reference and instruct about this
practice in a most joyous and visually raucous way.
Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia at CB1 (DTLA through Oct. 21).
His audience is most familiar with Hurtado Segovia’s woven paper tapestries.  He is a relentless
materials and visual innovator. In his latest exhibition, wooden sculpture figures prominently.  Hurtado
Segovia’s work seems to always reference Hispanic motifs, a feminine sensibility with materials, and a
“catholic” sort of spirituality.  He is a perfect example of the cross-cultural practices being highlighted in
the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.  It is a joy to attempt to keep up with his constantly evolving
creativity.
      Friedrich Kunath
Friedrich Kunath at Blum & Poe (Culver City through Oct. 14).
This 43 year old artist has lived and worked in LA for the last ten years.  He was formally trained in
Germany.  His palette, his painting technique, and the broad outline of his paintings are European.  But
LA has certainly burrowed deep into his gestalt.  That is what makes his work interesting to me – the
meld; the intersection.
Friedrich Kunath
Solange Pessoa at Blum & Poe (Culver City through Oct. 14).
Pessoa is Brazilian – from Minas Gerais where the soapstone she carves is mined.  Her work seems like
fossils or ritual relics.  Her ethos is unapologetically female.
Ken Gonzalez-Day at Luis de Jesus (Culver City through Oct. 28).
I quite enjoyed laughing and marveling my way through Gonzalez-Day’s exhibition.  He has executed a
prodigious effort to stage and composite his images.  He re-tells history, or fills in the missing aspects,
from a very contemporary viewpoint – mixing up “history” into a new reading.  Intelligent, poignant; funny.
Rachael Neubauer at Walter Maciel (Culver City through Oct. 28).
Rachael Neubauer’s sculptural portraits executed in stoneware are both exactingly lifelike and magically
“present”.  Never have I seen stoneware so deftly managed.  Hooray for portraits.  I hope the genre
develops a great resurgence.  Neubauer’s work encourages this revival.
    Cynthia Ona Innis (detail)
Cynthia Ona Innis at Walter Maciel (Culver City through Oct. 28).
It is easy to visually brush past this woman’s work.  But if just one aspect of her painting catches the eye
– the complex layering of pigment and laminated cloth strips will draw you in (detail shown above).  
Trying to figure out the technique, experiencing the color and the reflections – looking to understand
and then understanding that it is about looking...  
   Izhar Patkin
Shoshana Wayne (Bergamot through Sept. 30).
Eight of the gallery’s artists are presented in a “Salon” show.  Go experience very good quality work –
because that’s what going out to look at art is all about.
Izhar Patkin pushes pigment through the back of a screen.  The result seems like a woven fabric.  His
work is about the physicality of painting.
      Carlos Almaraz 1988
Carlos Almaraz at Craig Krull (Bergamot through Oct. 14).
Back in my youth, I used to lust after an Almaraz car crash painting.  Unfortunately…unrequited desire.  I
have mixed feelings about his broad oeuvre.  Craig Krull has assembled a very fine cross-section of
works.  This exhibition well fulfills the mandate for PST:LA/LA. It demonstrates Almaraz in a very flattering
light.
Carlos Almaraz 1987
   Magu 1990
Gilbert Lujan at Craig Krull (Bergamot through Oct. 14).
Gilbert “Magu” Lujan (1940-2011) is the much loved instigator of Los Four –
a Chicano artist collective (Magu, Carlos Almaraz, Beto de la Rocha, and Frank Romero) formed in
1974.  His stylized and exaggerated depictions of low-rider cars became a hallmark.   Lujan said: "My art
intentions, over the years, have been to use Mesoamerican heritage as well as implementing current
popular Art and cultural folk sources as the content substance to make Chicanarte."
KAJAHL at Richard Heller (Bergamot through Oct. 28).
This is KAJAHL’s first LA show.  He is a young Brooklyn artist who uses portraiture to revel in painting
mastery.  All theoretical arguments aside – these works are about painting. They are about portraiture
painting – in which we do not know who the subject is – but by looking, we think about life, our life’s
perspective.
Mark Steven Greenfield at Lora Schlesinger (Bergamot through Oct. 14).
The image above is just a small section of one of Greenfield’s paintings.  Every black mark is a
completed hand gesture.  In toto the sum of these marks is like a pulsating “field”, visual music.  
Greenfield’s work is the abstract extension of Charles Burchfield.
Bruce Cohen at Leslie Sacks (Bergamot through Nov. 4).
Bruce Cohen has been painting for over 40 years.  His work could be thought of as that of a Dutch
17th Century master.  His mentor, Paul Wonner, says, “I feel sometimes that I am looking at a place
where some tremendous, mystical event has just taken place.”
       Paul Caponigro 1968
The Art of the Platinum Print at Peter Fetterman (Bergamot through Dec. 2).
The common thread of the images in this exhibition of 40 artists is that all the prints are platinum.  If one
likes fine photography – the platinum experience trumps silver-gelatin.  Luscious depth shown with
transcendent light - wow.!
Olga de Amaral at Latin American Masters (Bergamot through Oct. 10).
Amaral’s unique, beautifully woven work is instantly recognizable.  Over the last couple decades I
have been “schooled” in her work.  She has long been championed by Belles Artes in Santa Fe.  This
LA exhibition demonstrates the broad interests and expertise practiced by Amaral (Colombian).  It
seems curious to me that Amaral is perhaps seen more as “craft” while El Anatusi is “fine art”.  Such is
the failure of criticism and education - to be precise and insightful with definitions.
   Graciela Iturbide 1986
Graciela Iturbide at Rose Gallery (Bergamot through Oct. 21).
This a complex tale of Iturbide’s life using her photography, Isabel Quintero’s prose, and Zeka Pena’s
drawings (for a book being published by the Getty).  Iturbide (she studied with Manuel Alvarez Bravo)
has shared her view of culture, ritual and everyday life for over four decades.  Her photography is
richly expressive.
In San Diego:
David Fobes at Palomar College (San Marcos through Sept.26).
One of four artists in an exhibition called “Parallel Universe”, David Fobes continues to evolve his
collaged paintings.  Their complexity suggests a more narrative reading.  Beauty and brains.  An
unbeatable combination.

In addition he has installed his first ever video production – projected on a painted scrim.  Lots of color.  
Action chroma.  Psychedelic.  
John Brinton Hogan at Palomar College (San Marcos through Sept.26).
Hogan’s manipulated photographic work is other-worldly, art-visually entrancing; with figures “redacted”
using glitter and other craft materials.  They visually posit that a photograph represents reality or, rather,
presents a reality.
(Unfortunately, my reflection and the room lighting in the art’s glazing was unavoidable.)
    Ben Jackel
BC to BC at San Diego Art Institute (Balboa Park through Oct. 29).
This ambitious exhibition presents 34 ceramics artists working between Baja California and British
Columbia.  What an effort.!  What a wonderful offering.  My favorites are pictured.  
Jeff Irwin
Patti Warashina
Richard Shaw
Tom Driscoll at Bread & Salt (Barrio Logan).
Tom Driscoll’s current show is beautifully installed in an appropriately serene room.  Unlike Rachel
Whiteread, his casts examine the positive object (rather than reflect the negative space around an
object).  With blaring color, Driscoll’s sculptures are filled with wonder and stimulate the desire to touch,
turn, and “go figure”.
Get out, look at art; have fun.
Doug Simay   September 2017       doug@simayspace.com