Hector Dionicio Mendoza at Luis de Jesus (DTLA through Feb.17).
Mexican-born Mendoza lives and works in Salinas. The sculptural works in this exhibition portray issues of life at the border. Realities of life crossing the border are mixed with “magical realism”. His artworks are made of various, repurposed materials – exuberantly displaying skillful sculptural techniques.
David Korty at Night Gallery (DTLA through March 9).
These complexly evolved works start as cut paper that gets addressed with colored pencil, paint, and collaged with more cut paper and monoprints.
Barrao at Night Gallery (DTLA through March 9).
Using broken pieces of mass-produced ceramics the Rio de Janiero artist Barrao skillfully constructs absurdist fantasies. His work is more sculptural than the functional whimsies of Adrian Saxe.
HK Zamani at CMAY (mid Wilshire through Feb. 10).
Habib Zamani is an indefatigable artist and arts impresario. I will go see any exhibition in which he participates.
Margaret Griffith at CMAY (mid Wilshire through Feb. 10).
Margaret Griffith’s work is constructed of layers of paper, each layer incised with holes. The papers are colored and the holes in one layer allow the viewer to look into the lower layers. It is sort of like a visual anthill. One perceives one view only to be seduced to look deeper; viewing another sense of optical nuances and oscillating patterns of color and repetition.
Sam Gilliam at David Kordansky (lower La Brea through March 3).
For years I have paid attention to Sam Gilliam (1933-2022). He lived his credentials as a Black artist living and working in Washington DC pursuing AbEx (significantly outside the sway of the white men of NYC) (a primary of the Washington Color School (Gene Davis, Morris Louis; Kenneth Noland)). This exhibition presents three bodies of work executed in the last five years of his life: tondos, draped fabric, and watercolor on paper. I am impressed with the man as an artist. His work is less telling for me than his trajectory as a constant, indefatigable artist.
Marina Perez Simao at Pace (lower La Brea through March 2).
This is the first showing of the Brazilian artist Simao on the West Coast and Los Angeles. The work is deeply colorful and expressive. I find her work to be about gesture – trying to interpret content in them is a big stretch.
Jessie Homer French at VSF (Hollywood through Feb. 17).
Living in Mountain View, California, the 84 y/o French is a self-taught, self-proclaimed “regional narrative” painter. Her work is about “death, nature, and rural life”. This show is really refreshing. Absent professional training French’s painting speaks very convincingly of her perceptions and interpretations of the world around her. There is humor, morbid fascination, foreboding, and celebration.
Jonsi at Tanya Bonakdar (Hollywood through Feb. 10).
This exhibition is unsettling because it has no precedent. Quoting the press release: “Interdisciplinary artist and musician Jonsi grounds his visual practice in material and metaphysical experimentations with sound, often through the engineering of immersive installations that reconfigure the act of listening by means of sight, smell, taste, and touch.” In an otherwise dark room one carefully walks into the smell and synthesized clouding by aroma smoke that fills the air. On the perimeter walls of this dark room are very large LED screens that pulse white light (a translation into light of the artist’s voice). In response to his voice AI responds with pulses of white light that bounces around the room. What is real; what is synthesized? What difference does it make? It is very disorienting.
Then there are two other rooms. In one is a massive shroud made of hundreds of tiny interconnected speakers. Walking beneath this “blanket” one is bathed in calming sounds and the scent of cis-3-hexenol (an odor component of freshly cut grass).
In the third room is a 100 speaker matrix programmed in a way too complex for me to attempt to recount.
All in all this provocative installation portends “art” in the future.
Ana Gonzalez at Sean Kelly (Hollywood through March 9).
This is a curious exhibition consisting of paintings, textiles, works on paper and sculptures. Gonzalez is Colombian. Her work is about the fragility of the natural ecosystems that surround us and on which our existence relies.
Pictured is a painted Amazonian landscape on fabric. She has partially unraveled the lower part of the fabric causing the image to “vaporize”. Metaphorically very effective.
William Brickel at Michael Kohn (Hollywood through March 2).
Brickel is a terrific artist – trained at London’s Royal Drawing School. I am constantly reminded of the technical fortitude artists trained in London receive and evince in their subsequent careers. This is a wonderful exhibition that relies on classical techniques rather than contemporary “tricks”. Brickel (born 1994) uses his own image as the subject of his paintings and drawings.
Omar Mendoza at Steve Turner (Hollywood closing).
Omar Mendoza is based in Mexico City. His large paintings tell indecipherable stories with a good deal of classical imagery. More significantly he paints on surfaces hand-made of textured cotton. He extracts paint pigments from plants, flowers, and barks found in his home state of Puebla.
Rodney Graham at Lisson (Hollywood through March 23).
Lisson (London, Beijing, Shanghai, New York) now has a handsome new gallery in Hollywood. They even have parking in front of the gallery!!!!!
I have nothing to say about Rodney Graham. Having been to Lisson’s two spaces in London many times – I am happy to have the opportunity to visit so close at hand. It also adds to the evidence that Los Angeles now figures increasingly on the world contemporary art stage.
Peter Mohall at Nino Mier (Hollywood through Feb. 17).
Mohall’s paintings explode off the wall with colorful intensity. The Norwegian painter offers a voyeuristic view of life at leisure. Quoting the press release: “his hyper-saturated color schemes evoke the boisterous aesthetics of Les Nabis, die Brücke, and Fauvism.” His paintings are exuberantly engaging. The radiance of the work in part combines the techniques of tempera grassa, acrylic composite, and charcoal on jute.
Giulia Messina at Nino Mier (Hollywood through Feb. 17).
Giulia Messina is a French-Italian, Belgium-based painter. She uses color markers and ink on paper to produce this oeuvre which she still calls “paintings”. There is great theatricality in her playful engagement. Her materials allow for rapid and dramatic presentation. The immediacy translates as its own reality no matter how chaotic it presents craziness.
Joan Brown at Matthew Marks (West Hollywood through April 6).
Joan Brown (1938-1990) needs no introduction/explanation. It is rare to see her work on this side of the continent. This exhibition presents 9 paintings and 1 sculpture.
Anthony Miserendino at Moskowitz Bayse (West Hollywood through Feb. 10).
I have just returned from a week in Merida, Yucatan. Visiting Uxmal again sensitized me to the power of relief sculpture. Miserendino fashions his “relief paintings” by casting them from acrylic pigment with clay slip. Whether depicting a bartender frozen in-action or a pickup truck loaded with cut marigolds for the market, Miserendino freezes a point in reality. Like the friezes of Uxmal or the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians, sculpturally frozen moments never cease “speaking”.
Justin Williams at Roberts Projects (mid Wilshire through March 9).
Reviewing the art offerings on this trip, I am reminded that figurative art appears to be supplanting abstract art as a dominant motif in today’s exhibition world. Great. I quite appreciate visual arts that tell a story.
Justin Williams paints scenes that tell stories that evolve from “before” and hint at what might be “after”. They offer the probability of a narrative as unstructured as that might be. Thus the viewer is engaged to supply their own narrative.
Get out, look at art; have fun.
Doug Simay February 2024