I was just watching a terrific documentary on KCET about Edith Heath. She was quite a visionary and achieved amazing things with the medium of clay. I learned that the exterior of the Norton Simon museum is clad in Heath Ceramics and that she was the first non-architect an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal for her architectural tiles for that project. Here is a link to more about her accomplishments in modernist design. Link
This hot summer is filled with some “hot” exhibitions not to be missed. I want to bring your attention to 2 exhibits that I recently viewed; both with very powerful messages. The first one is at Craft Contemporary, entitled On the Inside. A group of approximately 110 portrait drawings by LGBTQ+ artists who are currently incarcerated. Behind bars, their identities are stripped away, and they become just another number in the system. The art is made from basic materials the prisoners have access to behind bars: mostly letter-sized paper, dull pencils, ballpoint pen ink tubes (the hard shell is deemed too dangerous), and unlikely innovations such as using an asthma inhaler with Kool-Aid to create an air brushed painting. I was particularly taken with the installed room in the lobby which is the exact size of a room for solitary confinement. The exterior is covered in text with information about this practice and how it is so abused, hence violating the civil rights of these prisoners. Thru 9/ 8/19.
The second exhibit that in my opinion is a “must see” is at LACMA. The Allure of Matter: Contemporary Art from China. This exhibit brings together works from the past four decades in which conscious material choice has become a symbol of the artists’ expression, representing this unique trend throughout recent history. The exhibit provides some outstanding examples of the work that Chinese contemporary artists have created demonstrating their intimate relationships with their materials, establishing a framework of interpretation revolving around materiality. Their media range from the commonplace to the unconventional, the natural to the synthetic, the elemental to the composite: from plastic, water, and wood, to hair, tobacco, and Coca-Cola. Some of the most influential Chinese contemporary artists today are featured in this exhibition, including Xu Bing, Cai Guo-Qiang, Lin Tianmiao, and Ai Weiwei. Of special notice is Day Dreamer by Lin Tianmiao, a self-portrait suspended from the ceiling with hundreds of cotton threads stitched through the image hanging to the floor. Cotton thread has personal and historical meaning for this artist. Also, exquisite “kimonos” created using polyurethane, iron powder, silk and cocoons by Liang Shaoji are truly ethereal. Thru 1/05/20.
IN THE GALLERIES
Offal is a combination juried and invited artists exhibit at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. The exhibition which addresses the delicate subject of innards proves be quite compelling. Among the artists are Bonnie Huang, Josephine Pride, Victoria Reynolds, Jeanine Shinoda and more. 8/15-9/29/19.
Opening Reception: Sunday, 8/11/19; 2-5 p.m.
Genevieve Gaignard: I’m Sorry I Never Told You That You’re Beautiful is the current exhibition at Suzanne Veilmetter Projects. Gaignard is known for her exploration of Americana via racial formation, interiority and portraiture. This exhibition explores affinity of place, desires of flight/departure, and an empathic turn through installation, collage, sculpture, and photography. In her recent bodies of work, Gaignard has used the site of homeplace and emblems of domesticity to explore American racial logic, beauty, and desire. For I’m Sorry I Never Told You That You’re Beautiful Gaignard presents a domestic space of pleasure and affirmation while attending to the possibility of tumult and atonement. Gaignard’s signature wallpaper, porcelain figurines, and kitsch objects adorn her installation, presenting the amalgamation of things both of blackness and beauty enmeshed with (white) Americana textile patterns, advertisements, and ephemera. Mirrors and reflective surfaces merge viewers within discrete moments of Gaignard’s objects and Gaignard herself, as her grid of portraits is an opportunity to behold and echo back onto the one gazing. Thru 8/17/19.
Lois Lambert Gallery presents Yamilé Bordón: Speculation. Bordón is a Cuban sculptor working with three dimensional readymade objects. Her series “Speculation” is about the transformation of everyday items into moments that are both personal and historical. She rejects a purely visual aesthetic in favor of a conceptually driven approach. Yamilé is fascinated by the fundamental and architectural beauty of regular objects rather than their functional use. By modifying, reassembling, deconstructing, reconstructing, and rotating these objects she is able to reinterpret their meaning based on their new context. She casts aside the original function and explores how the items exist in reality now that she has changed their form. Yamilé often reflects on Duchamp’s Readymades by choosing her sculptures instead of sculpting each piece from raw material. However, her pieces derive a much stronger nostalgia from moments in her life. She refers to her creative process as “checking boxes” in her memories. Simply rotating an object on its side can write a new narrative for the object; it overcomes its past self and becomes a representation of Yamilé’s memory. Through her female perspective each piece represents evolutions of herself and the world she understands. They are akin to poetry for her and through them we can understand glimpses of her world. Thru 8/31/19.
Later this month at the CSUN West Gallery is Yvette Gillis: Omnipresence or Chance curated by Molly Enholm. Here is the curator’s statement: Yvette Gellis operates at the crossroads of the visceral and the intellectual, deftly layering charcoal, paint and collaged imaginary to construct Arcadian scenes of the natural environment. Exquisitely tall trees, interrupted by pools of intoxicating teal-blue, reach beyond view punctuated by hypnotically repetitive patterns of splendid orange poppies and wistfully rust-colored leaves. The landscape recedes into a nearly mystical space dissolving in both light and shadow, while pronounced swaths of impasto paint are physical reminders of the artist’s presence. She creates this meditative interpretation of the natural world while traversing the ever-shifting boundaries between representation and abstraction, or, rather, between notions of control and elements of chance. The cyclical motif of the leaf provides Gellis with an imagistic structure, surpassing traditional tropes to represent not the ephemeral, but the omnipresent. The walls of the gallery quietly dissolve behind the complex assemblage of canvases, panels and Plexiglas that projects into the physical realm occupied by the viewer. A departure from traditional notions of the landscape, there is no implied narrative here, no defined relationship between humanity and the environment created by the artist and presented to the viewer. Instead, Gellis offers a space to inhabit and meditate upon the notions of chance, choice and the omnipresence of nature. The exhibit will include large scale paintings and works on paper. 8/24-9/12/19.
Opening reception is Saturday, 8/24/19: 4-6 p.m.
IN THE MUSEUMS
Mary Corse: A Survey in Light is the first solo museum survey is a long overdue examination of this singular artist’s career. Initially trained as an abstract painter, Corse emerged in the mid-1960s as one of the few women associated with the West Coast Light and Space movement. She shared with her contemporaries a deep fascination with perception and with the possibility that light itself could serve as both subject and material of art. The survey will bring together for the first time Corse’s key bodies of work, including her early shaped canvases, freestanding sculptures, and light encasements that she engineered in the mid-1960s, as well as her breakthrough White Light Paintings, begun in 1968, and the Black Earth Series that she initiated after moving in 1970 from downtown Los Angeles to Topanga Canyon, where she lives and works today. Thru 11/11/19. Scroll down on the following page for a video of the artist in her studio.
OBSIDIAN LADDER by Bolivian-American artist Donna Huanca continues at Marciano Foundation. Her site-specific installation in their massive Theater Gallery reveals a new topography of triggered senses, combining sound, scent, and live performance. These elements will be experienced together against a constellation of carved steel sculptures and skin paintings. Skin and the body—its presence and absence—lay at the core of Huanca’s works. The artist utilizes materials that have a direct relationship to nature, such as raw pigments, oils, turmeric, sand, and clay. These are key elements in her “skin paintings,” for which she applies fragments of paint, latex, and other skin-like materials to either the human body or canvas. These same materials appear on her sculptures throughout the exhibition, creating a tactile ecosystem that links her pieces to one another. Using skin as both canvas and performative tool, Huanca deconstructs dominant gender and body politics and introduces an alternative, non-objectifying gaze—one focused on memory, biology, and time. (MAF) Thru 12/01/19.
Also continuing at Marciano is Anna Uddenberg: Privé. Uddenberg explores social conventions and norms that are the product of consumer culture. She challenges ingrained ways of thinking and seeing as well as ideas of mental and physical mobility. Through the lens of the feedback loop that is social media, she analyzes systems of representation, the performativity of femme expressions and its cross-connection to consumer culture and gender studies. Her interest in femme as figuration is geared towards exploring power dynamics in the service domain, and disputes the idea of femininity by revealing what happens when these roles are amplified and over-performed to a degree of uncanny absurdity.(MAF) Thru 12/22/19.
Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel continues at the UCLA Hammer museum. Provocative and at times puzzling yet familiar, the exhibition offers a wide selection of the artist’s oeuvre including sculptures, photographs, and installation. One Thousand Eggs for Women was a significant interactive performance by Lucas at the Hammer. Scroll down to view the video. Thru 8/31/19.
Judy Chicago @ Jeffrey Deitch Projects
Betye Saar: Call and Response @ LACMA
Julie Mehretu @ LACMA