The Five Spot | Curator Shana Nys Dambrot brings together five artists (Laura and Manfred Menz, Vincent Sabella, Bettina Hubby, and Marion Lane) who each administer the strategies of television optics and commercial desire as both the poison and the antidote, turning fervent codes and strategies inside out to get at what is hidden behind the surface.
The show's title refers to the casual lingo of televised programming and also cash money. The very diverse practices of these artists, all of whom live and work in Los Angeles, replicate for the viewer differently aspected optical and emotional experiences akin to the passive, manipulative vertigo of commercial surrender. These artists explore the way color and pattern stimulate the brain, using imagery, abstraction, and the in-between, delivering content but deferring meaning.
Kevin Appel / Cannon Hudson / Betsy Lin Seder | An exhibition of new painting, drawing, photographic and sculptural work by three Los Angeles-based artists. Set up in an open-ended configuration of relational specificity, the work of Appel, Hudson and Seder is bound in an abstract triangulation, embedded with varying degrees of peripheral concerns -- whether conceptual or aesthetic, practical or personal -- around issues of architecture, place, structure, and site. Supported by Gaston Bachelard's concept of topoanalysis (the systematic psychological study of the sites of our intimate lives), Christian Norberg-Schulz's genius loci (the spirit of place), and Robert Smithson's Site/Non-site dialectic, the language and source material utilized by these artists is, upon first look, a seemingly hard-edged and cool modernism: reductive forms, grids, structured surfaces and mid-century architectural icons, filtered through the lens of a Southern California vernacular. Yet, through screens, webs, shadows, mirrors, or veiled glimpses of ecological degradation, ghosts can be felt here tinkering away, loosening a few screws in the framework of faded discourse, and revealing the gestures of a more critical-conceptual abstraction.
Jason Yates: Every Self Portrait Is a Cry for Help | In this exhibition, Yates constructs a hyper-stylized version of a bedroom, a simulacrum that transforms the gallery both into an intimate private space and a public spectacle. He creates a tightly focused installation, a space where common, everyday objects: a bed, end tables, vanity, mirrors, and wallpaper, are freed from their functional categorization. The artist's characteristic repetitive lines, hatch marks and scalloped patterns move away from the boundaries of the canvas, populating sheets, mirrors, and wall paper. The mirrors, inscribed with Yates' hatch marks, serve as an entry point into the exhibition, confronting the viewer with his/her reflection, veiled, distorted, and fractured by the artist's markings. One has to lose oneself to enter the artist's constructed space.
The totality of this environment, created by the propagation of these simple markings, immerse the viewer into a personal space that belongs presumably to an absent inhabitant. The viewer becomes a voyeur, perhaps contemplating who would live in such a place. Is this bedroom a self-portrait in the sense that it reflects ones identity, desires, and preoccupations or is it an imaginary place, the product of an obsessive, orderly mind, numbed by the repetitive aspects of every day life? Is this an illusion, both optical and psychological?
Christy Lee Rogers: Reckless Unbound | Without the use of post-production manipulation, Rogers' works are made in-camera, on the spot, in water and at night. Rogers once again reshapes the boundaries between contemporary photography and painting. Boisterous in color and complexity, Rogers applies her cunning technique to a barrage of bodies submerged in water during tropical nights in Hawaii. Through a fragile process of experimentation, she builds elaborate scenes of coalesced colors and entangled bodies that exalt the human character as one of vigor and warmth, while also capturing the beauty and vulnerability of the tragic experience that is the human condition.
Her unrestrained ability to excite and inflame the senses, while provoking the audience with vivacious movement and purpose, stirs one's memories of Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens, and his Massacre of the Innocents; where the drama of bodies straining, cascading and crushed against one another, thunders with heartache from the canvas. These works not only demonstrate her prolific use of the photographic medium to transform reality, but also her ephemeral approach to life itself.
Akina Cox & Ariane Vielmetter: Another Self | A two-person exhibition by recent CalArts graduates, Akina Cox and Ariane Vielmetter, which developed out of a letter from Cox to Vielmetter, that explore the relationship between the two artists, as well as their interests in the association between realism and fiction, the self and the other.
Both Cox and Vielmetter are interested in what gets sidelined, destroyed or marginalized when history focuses on a specific idea of progress and relevance. In a newer body of work, Cox tries to disentangle the cultural contributions of the legendary Amazons from how they have been mythologized, exoticized and reinterpreted by the ancient Greeks -- a perspective which is given more historical credence. Vielmetter is interested in the enduring relevance of the still life, or "rhopography," a genre also dismissed by the ancient Greeks as the documentation of filth and trivialities. Vielmetter explains, "I think that by dedicating so much care and attention to subjects that have historically been forgotten, de-fanged, or denied the credibility they deserve, we are trying to dig up a kind of lineage that we can validate, identify with, and build from. This alternate history often focuses on nonlinguistic forms of communication, activities that take place in the private or domestic realm and objects that are made from non-precious or ephemeral materials."
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