Los Angeles

HA HA! BUSINESS! at Luis De Jesus

Novelist Don DeLillo once quipped, “California deserves whatever it gets. Californians invented the concept of lifestyle. This alone warrants their doom.” This concept is the curatorial mission behind HA HA! BUSINESS!, currently on view at Luis de Jesus, Los Angeles. HA HA! BUSINESS! reprimands what it sees as a jingoistic and self-centered lifestyle—a world filled with social-media fiends who are willing to cut down the next person, or the world around them, for their own gain.

Valerie Blass. La Mèprise (detail), 2015; composite of two porcelain objects, flocking, mirror, marble slab; 70 x 21.5 x 19.25 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Luis De Jesus. Photo: Calder Yates.

Valerie Blass. La Mèprise, 2015 (detail); composite of two porcelain objects, flocking, mirror, marble slab; 70 x 21.5 x 19.25 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Luis De Jesus. Photo: Calder Yates.

Valerie Blass’ sculpture La Méprise (2015) consists of a black porcelain figurine of a cat, positioned atop a bust on a marble shelf in front of a large concave mirror. Blass turns the cat, of thrift-store schlock, onto its back with its face turned up toward the ceiling and legs pointing directly into the gallery. The cat’s tail is distorted through the mirror and appears to be thrusting out toward the viewer, engorged and erect. By tipping the cat onto its back, Blass reveals the gender identity of bland consumerism: a kind of cultural imperialism that paves the way for banal and hollow objects to take over the visual environment. Within this generic cat figurine—one of seemingly millions manufactured and sold in home décor sections of Home Depots all over the world—Blass finds the obscene and sinister neuroticism that undergirds the common object. La Méprise, roughly translated, means “the misconception.”

Read More »

Share

Shotgun Reviews

2BENAMED at Naming Gallery in Oakland

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Takeema Hoffman reviews 2BENAMED at Naming Gallery in Oakland. 

Art Party Collective.  2BENAMED, installation view, 2015;  Courtesy of the Artists and Naming Gallery. Photo: Wilson Linker and Lisa Aurora.

Art Party Collective. 2BENAMED, 2015; installation view. Courtesy of the Artists and Naming Gallery. Photo: Wilson Linker and Lisa Aurora.

2BENAMED, an exhibition currently at Naming Gallery in the heart of downtown Oakland, is an electrifying showcase of diverse artworks from the Art Party Collective. Comprising roughly 20 members aged 15 to 21, the group was formed out of the desire to do something with all the bad-assery, or art, that the close-knit group created.

A key influence in Art Party’s philosophy and aesthetic is Oakland. When asked “What’s so Oakland about the show?” collective member and featured artist Winnie Smith replied, “It’s the action, the pep, the hyph.” The spirit of hyph here, as in the Bay-born hyphy[1] subculture, is strong. In a collaborative piece by Jared Ford and Conor Hickey, Mac Dre’s face beams from the square center of an elaborately painted cross, looking down on the space like a grand cosmic deity. Under Art Party’s control, the gallery is an installation vibrating with the manic electricity that hyphy represents. The walls are blanketed with fluorescent murals and doodles, broken pieces of chocolate-chip cookies, and tagged phrases such as “My girlfriend is starting to bum me out, you can have her.” It’s eye candy, sure enough, but there’s more here than sugar and dye. Just as “going dumb” [2] requires equal parts whim and technique, the work in this show is as effervescent as it is contemplative.

Read More »

Share

San Francisco

Do It & Do It (Archive) at the Napa Valley Museum

Today from our partners at Art Practical, we bring you Glen Helfand‘s review of Do It & Do It (Archive), a survey of relational aesthetics now on view at the Napa Valley Museum. The author notes that this iteration of the exhibition “…seems a bit more community-minded, offering an entertaining and edifying entry to conceptualism for locals and adventurous, well-heeled visitors who have a little time to kill before their dinner reservation at the French Laundry.” This article was originally published on July 14, 2015.

Alison Knowles. Homage to Each Red Thing, 1996. Photo: Glen Helfand.

Alison Knowles. Homage to Each Red Thing, 1996. Photo: Glen Helfand.

The kicky collage video presented at the beginning of this Hans Ulrich Obrist-curated, Independent Curators International-distributed exhibition is a condensed introduction to relational aesthetics. But it also makes an intriguing boast: Do It is the longest touring art exhibition, ever. For twenty years, in various variable forms, this cleverly packaged survey of instructional art has been appearing in museums and galleries around the globe. It’s hard to resist placing it in the framework of other world-record-holding cultural artifacts such as, say, long-running Broadway musicals (Cats! Phantom! Les Mis!). But the exhibition’s endurance raises built-in questions about its premise: Do once-challenging conceptual, interactive projects grow stale or more democratic the longer they float through culture?

For those who haven’t encountered the exhibition (its last local appearance was at the Palo Alto Cultural Center back in 1997), the premise and process are self-generating. The presenting institution chooses 25 classic and more recent instructional works from the 250 provided in the exhibition publication—in a sense “branding” these works as Do It pieces—and creates them onsite with locally sourced materials and makers. It’s an economical way for small museums to have major names on their walls, as well as a means to engage audiences in a more direct way through creation of the works on view.

Read the full article here.

Share

Fan Mail

Fan Mail: John Tierney

John Tierney’s paintings have a distinct relationship to cinema. Hollywood, California, and the greater Los Angeles area are awash in a rich and intense light that seems to linger over everything with an endless glow, a light as potent as the dreams and realities of fame and stardom promised by the movie companies that populate the city. For a representational painter such as Tierney, the kind of light and environment that Los Angeles offers is irresistible. Tierney’s paintings all exude a deft and consistent touch that creates flattened yet realistic planes, and a seemingly airbrushed texture that mirrors the textures of the objects depicted.

John Tierney. Elvis is on the Building, Palm Springs, 2013; oil on canvas; 20 x 16 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

John Tierney. Elvis Is on the Building, Palm Springs, 2013; oil on canvas; 20 x 16 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Tierney’s paintings capture the capacities and fallacies of images to both concretize and mystify. These mystifiers are not problematic for Tierney, merely interesting and somewhat opportune. The artist explains: “Edward Hopper once referred to grasping the ‘surprise and accidents of nature.’ While my position is, in this sense, congruent with his, I am also interested in grasping the surprise and accidents of photographs—light and shade, movement, the deportment of people. In short, engaging with the serendipity inherent in a photographic image.” Elvis Aaron Presley is a potent symbol of the draw of stardom, and of the power of Hollywood and the music industry to create near-mythological figures out of ordinary people. In Elvis Is on the Building, Palm Springs (2013), Tierney pairs a mural-size image of Elvis in profile, instantly recognizable, with a group of palm trees in hyperrealistic detail growing just behind a house with a roof covered in Spanish ceramic tiles. As Elvis stares back through the picture plane, viewers are reminded that the man the world knew was forged in Memphis and in Hollywood—iconic towns known for producing iconic figures.

Read More »

Share

New York

Philippe Parreno: H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS at the Park Avenue Armory

In Philippe Parreno’s current exhibition, H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS at the Park Avenue Armory, Danny the Street is a sprawling installation based on a DC Comics character who is a sentient stretch of roadway. The character Danny periodically inserts himself into the architecture of different cities, communicating via puffs of manhole smoke. In Parreno’s installation, Danny has inserted himself inside the Armory as a series of flickering theater marquees along an avenue, his blinking lights meticulously synced with a selection of player pianos and hidden electronic instruments that compose a ghostly gamelan.

Philippe Parreno. H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS, 2015; installation view, Park Avenue Armory, New York. Photo: James Ewing.

Philippe Parreno. H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS, 2015; installation view, Park Avenue Armory, New York. Photo: James Ewing.

The marquees in Danny the Street are discrete works that have been lent to the exhibition by prestigious collections, and they come together to form a kind of language mechanism. As a visitor walks down the avenue, Parreno’s Danny seems to plead for communication. This naming of individual pieces that together constitute a larger work positions Parreno always as the curator of his own work. This is Parreno’s signature: to mastermind the installation of his exhibition in such a way that its sheer presence becomes the art object. What constitutes the work thus flits around the room, sometimes identifiable in a single piece and sometimes ensconced in the performance of the viewer’s attendance. What’s so marvelous about Danny the Street—both the installation and its source material—is that both things are thus defined by identities that should disqualify their existence. A street is not a person; an experience is not an object. Yet here, they defiantly are.

As I walk down the installation’s “Street” to the “Bleachers,” an enormous rotating platform of scaffolding and risers designed to be a cinema’s seating area, I witness spectators who can’t help but become transformed into part of Parreno’s work. Visitors lounge on the different levels of the risers, silhouetted against the massive video screen at the back of the space. Some stand, some casually lean, some crouch and peer forward. Their poses are so beautiful—these bodies on multiple levels of rotating scaffolds—I think they must be staged.

Read More »

Share

New Orleans

Ten Years Gone at the New Orleans Museum of Art

In the aftermath of a catastrophe, memorialization and remembrance are inevitably tied to forms of forgetting. These often take the shape of reactionary modes that proclaim an urgent desire to smooth over the eruptive, unresolved conflicts that shape our collective past and place them into digestible modes of representation.[1] However, for the communities that bear witness to the impact of a disastrous event, forgetting is impossible, as the harsh realities of the event continue to manifest themselves economically, socially, geographically, and spiritually.

Christopher Saucedo. World Trade Center as a Cloud (No. 5). 2011. Linen pulp on cotton paper. 60 x 40 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Christopher Saucedo. World Trade Center as a Cloud (No. 5), 2011; linen pulp on cotton paper; 60 x 40 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

The New Orleans Museum of Art’s current exhibition Ten Years Gone—timed to coincide with the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina—draws attention to the phenomenological fabric of disaster by making powerful connections between the messy temporal structures that animate traumatic events, cycles of life, and art itself. Despite strong aesthetic and contextual differences between the six artists chosen for the exhibition, curator Russell Lord has woven together a polyphonic conversation that explores disaster as a way to understand tragedy as something forever in the process of becoming. Here, time oscillates between the roles of organizing principle, conceptual conceit, and metaphor for the untidy “unfinished-ness” that often marks complex events, as the potency and infallibility of art to fully re-present the past is explored with vigor.

Read More »

Share

Seattle

CONSTRUCT\S at the Wing Luke Museum

CONSTRUCT\S: Installations by Asian Pacific American Women Artists at the Wing Luke Museum is a journey into the lives and minds of six artists who employ a range of media and creative tactics to explore sociocultural identity, familial history, and locality. The exhibition does not claim to be a comprehensive survey of “Asian Pacific American art.” Rather, it provides an array of entry points into a textured conversation, opening up meaningful dialogue on subjectivity and ethnicity through idiosyncratic impressions, experiences, and ideas. CONSTRUCT\S intends for each of the five artworks to be experienced as autonomous, immersive installations. Provocative and emotionally steeped, the pieces read as portraits, revealing the ways in which each artist navigates and makes space for herself in the world.

Lynne Yamamoto. Whither House, 2015; installation; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Wing Luke Museum. Photo: Toryan Dixon.

Lynne Yamamoto. Whither House, 2015; installation; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Wing Luke Museum. Photo: Toryan Dixon.

Lynne Yamamoto’s Whither House (2015) is a towering, ghostly white apparition that aggressively bisects the gallery from floor to ceiling. The piece is a monument to the makeshift housing used by Japanese American farmers of the early 20th century. Despite systematic evictions from the land, Japanese Americans cultivated a social and cultural life proving that settlement can be born out of itinerancy. The tent-like dwelling symbolizes the profound impact of this group of immigrants—and their internment—on the history of U.S. agriculture. Circling Yamamoto’s structure, one will find no doorway—no way in. Viewers are relegated to the exterior of the piece, left to marvel at the ripples in the garment-like walls as they levitate just inches above the floor. A looming specter, Whither House honors ephemerality, and the motivation for a community to establish itself in the wake of being disowned.

Read More »

Share