Due to my foreign travel I have not made my LA art rounds since last November. Making up for lost opportunity...
Michael Hilsman at Various Small Fires (Hollywood through April 29).
Michael Hilsman’s realist paintings combine both landscape and portraiture; the juncture becoming still life. The enigma of his work is inviting rather than sinister. Why, what’s it mean? This curious work invites contemplation with the experience of looking trumping understanding.
Anish Kapoor at Regen Projects (Hollywood through April 15).
I applaud artists who transcend their success to explore new avenues of creation. I have great admiration for Kapoor’s sculptures. He is as unique a sculptor as the contemporary world has produced. His current exhibition at Regen Projects presents huge paintings. Like ripe, abstract seeds the fecundity of imagery burst forth with sanguineous vitality.? Humm. Harrumph.
Mark Manders at Tanya Bonakdar (Hollywood closing).
Manders has an extensive museum exhibition history. His work is polysemous. Quoting the press release – “…objects that exist simultaneously as painting, poem, sculpture, and text.” I did not expect much on entering this exhibition. On leaving I was absolutely seduced.
Rose Barberat at Steve Turner (Hollywood through April 22).
Barberat’s paintings are interesting – not great. She is Paris-based and the paintings in this exhibition were inspired by her summer 2022 visit to LA. As such they are experiential reflections of a foreign traveler. Sun, heat, cars. This exhibition reminded me of the work of Tiger Rocha seen here this last November and due to be seen again here in July of this year.
Refik Anadol at Jeffery Deitch (Hollywood through April 29).
Refik Anadol harnesses data from a myriad of sources and then uses Artificial Intelligence to amalgamate this data into a fluid, visual analog data set that gets projected. Is it art? A humanoid robot can do all the things a real human can do and have a “voice” designed by AI. What is soul? Can a complex mathematical algorithm project the vagaries of emotion. What is emotion? This stuff is really trippy but devoid of emotive content. It is a dense light show that highlights the power of digital data.
Mindy Shapero at Nino Mier (Hollywood though April 29).
I use Mindy Shapero’s painting to remark on the extension of Nino Mier’s gallery enterprises along Santa Monica Blvd. Mier now has four exhibition spaces (two in one building and the remaining two in nearby spaces). Wow. That is a lot of programming for a gallery that also has showplaces in Brussels, New York, and Marfa. Put this complex of galleries on your visit list – as well as the walk-ably nearby Karma.
Martin Puryear at Matthew Marks (Hollywood closing).
Puryear is one of my favorite sculptors. This small exhibition is a greater reward than a modest exhibition of seven sculptures might seem to offer. This is the first one-person exhibition by Puryear in LA in over 30 years.
Pat Phillips at M+B (West Hollywood through April 15).
Phillips grew up in rural Louisiana. His work integrates the complexities of an environment (the American South) that is both hospitable and not so. His paintings reflect the cultural clashes that he grew up with.
George Condo at Hauser & Wirth (West Hollywood through April 22).
I have loved seeing George Condo’s paintings for a very long time. Over the years he has stayed true to his aesthetic. But, in this exhibition mounted in Hauser & Wirth’s new West Hollywood gallery I may have reached the end of my fascination. Just as I have increasingly become inured to Picasso’s oeuvre having been so flooded over the years with the Picasso-osity of the Spanish master, Condo has finally echoed Picasso far too long.
Ellen von Unwerth at Fahey/Klein (La Brea through April 29).
As the first gallery visit of a new LA day, what seems more fitting than seeing von Unwerth’s photographs of Hollywood glamour?
Hilary Pecis at Kordansky (lower La Brea through April 22).
Bright and breezy paintings of the landscape demonstrate a love of color painting. The work is flat and schematic. I cannot escape that her painting stands in juxtaposition with that of Jonas Wood (whose content offers far more intellectual resonance).
Louise Nevelson at Pace (lower La Brea through April 29).
This large exhibition features Louise Nevelson’s work from the 1950s through 1980s. It is rare to see (and so be able to immerse oneself) in such a prolific exhibition.
Rita Ackermann at Hauser & Wirth (DTLA through April 30).
It is curious to present the works by Rita Ackermann along with those by Zeng Fanzhi. They both appear to be abstract painters but with underpinnings of figurative expression. Ackermann’s painting holds little allure for me. It is based on old school abstraction seen too many times by too many artists over too many years.
Zeng Fanzhi at Hauser & Wirth (DTLA through April 30).
On the other hand the Chinese painter, Fanzhi, melds abstraction with landscape realism. His paintings are fresh and uniquely his expression. He is a venerated Chinese artist with an international reputation who pushes into new territory, reinventing himself along the way.
Douglas Tavsik Ryder at PRJCTLA (DTLA through April 22).
Ryder’s wood sculptures are heroic, accomplished, and uniquely audacious. I think Carl Berg is one of this country's most adept and insightful curators. This exhibition certainly adds to this claim.
Jean Lowe at Luis de Jesus (DTLA through April 22).
I enjoyed Jean Lowe’s current exhibition more than any other I have seen over many years. The heroic paintings rise out of a flat, solid “ground” into their own firmament of religiosity. She has also produced and acted in a sequence of videos in which she plays (very effectively and humorously) alternating female, male, drag and lesbian characters. There is plenty here to engage both the mind and spirit.
Robert Pruitt at Vielmetter (DTLA through April 22).
Having seen (and admired) Pruitt’s work for years (seen at Koplin Del Rio (formerly of LA and now in Seattle) it is refreshing to again see his work in person. It is also interesting to see this style of drawing represented by Suzanne Vielmetter, who to this point has not shown such “real” imagery about “real” people. This is a terrific exhibition displaying the skill of a long-practicing figurative artist.
Robert Gunderman at Wilding Cran (DTLA through April 29).
Since discontinuing (in 2017) being a gallerist (along with Randy Sommer) operating as ACME, Robert Gunderman has actively re-emerged as a painter. He has had several exhibitions in the ensuing years. This show at Wilding Cran demonstrates Gunderman’s advancing maturity as an abstract painter. The works on display here are confident and powerful.
Asuka Anastacia Ogawa at Blum & Poe (Culver City through April 15).
Born in Japan, raised in rural Brazil, early education in Sweden and a BFA from London certainly help to distinguish why her paintings are not as they may seem on initial view. Initially and reflexively thinking I was looking at a Yoshitomo Nara clone, it did not take long to see Ogawa’s work very differently. Her characters are dark-skinned like Brazilian. Her characters display animistic and Christian practices. There is ritualistic practice afoot in Ogawa’s paintings.
Gajin Fujita at LA Louver (Venice through May 6).
Having followed Fujita’s painting with mild interest, I viewed his sixth exhibition at LA Louver while he spoke with a small audience. Characteristically Fujita melds classical forms of Japanese painting (think ukiyo-e) with his own iconography of “street art”; US pop culture graffiti. I am underwhelmed particularly having now heard him speak while in front of his paintings. I could not get the work of painter Masami Teraoka out of my mind. Teraoka’s paintings are both beautiful and meaningful. Intellectual and aesthetic qualities lacking in Fujita’s work.
Get out, look at art; have fun.
Doug Simay April 2023