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I would guess that over the six decades of his career, Don Bachardy (b. 1934) – one of the best-known Los Angeles artists – has painted thousands of portraits. Portraits of his friends, portraits of his clients, portraits of his life-long partner, British novelist Christopher Isherwood, and, of course, hundreds of portraits of himself.

Installation shot, Don Bachardy: Self-Portraits. Craig Krull Gallery. Los Angeles. Photo courtesy Craig Krull Gallery.

The first sensation upon entering the new exhibition of Bachardy’s self-portraits at Craig Krull Gallery is that the artist is staring at you and judging you mercilessly. It takes time to remember that when artists make self-portraits, they study themselves in a mirror.

Self-Portraits by Don Bachardy. 2019. Photos courtesy Craig Krull Gallery.

In his earlier self-portraits, we see Bachardy as an attractive and self-assured young and middle-aged man. But, obviously, this kind of complimentary self-presentation isn’t his concern anymore. Now, in his mid-80s, Bachardy is digging deep into his soul: into his insecurities, his fears, and, yes, his mortality. In his latest self-portraits, he is visibly vulnerable, and, on occasions, we see him truly scared. Let me put it this way: few artists have been as amazingly brave as Don Bachardy to drop their façades and reveal their naked souls.


David Hockney (English, born 1937). 

Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, 1968. Acrylic on canvas, 212 x 303.5 cm. Private collection. © David Hockney. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I want to remind you that David Hockney, a close friend of Don Bachardy and Christopher Isherwood, painted their portrait five decades ago, in 1968. It became one of Hockney’s best-known images, capturing the spirit and glamour of LA.


L & R: Installation shots, Kenzi Shiokava. Ben Maltz Gallery. Photos by Edward Goldman.

Another exhibition I urge you to see, as it’s closing at the end of this week, is an exhibition by Kenzi Shiokava (b. 1938) in the Otis College of Art and Design’s gallery. This Brazilian-born Japanese sculptor moved to Los Angeles in 1964, and for most of his life, supported himself as a gardener while quietly making his art.


Installation shot, Kenzi Shiokava. Ben Maltz Gallery. Photo by Edward Goldman.

Only a few years ago, I learned about Shiokava thanks to his beautifully installed totemic sculptures in The Hammer’s 2016 Made in L.A. Biennale. It was one of the first public presentations of his art. The current exhibition of his assemblages and sculptures at Otis, his alma mater, shows the artist’s unique understanding and love of wood, his primary material. If you come close to any of his wooden totems, I swear you’ll start to hear them tell their stories.


L & R: Installation shots, Kenzi Shiokava. Ben Maltz Gallery. Photos by Edward Goldman.

According to the exhibition’s curator Kate McNamara, Shiokava’s totems “concern … [the] visibility of the human spirit. Life, death, rebirth, and associations with the sacred can be detected within every hand-carved contour and elegantly placed object.”

As artists, Don Bachardy and Kenzi Shiokava couldn’t be more different – one a figurative painter, the other an abstract sculptor. But, what they share is a maturity and wisdom in their art – the result of many decades of searching for truth.

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Art Talk by Kcrw, Edward Goldman, Hunter Drohoj.. - 1w ago

Art fairs now are a dime a dozen in cities around the world but geniune art festivals, places where artists make work for the privilege of creative engagement— not so much. Where does this take place? The High Desert, the expansive, under- populated regions around Palm Springs.



This is, I believe, the biggest congregation to date. Desert X launched the season in February over 198 miles stretching from the western edge of Palm Springs to the Salton Sea. Neville Wakefield, curator of the 2017 debut as well as this version, selected wisely. Major pieces by well-recognized artists provide the draw: Sterling Ruby’s glowing blood orange rectangular cuboid could be seen from the 111 Freeway and attracted crowds easily.

Hunter with augmented reality art of Hilary Baker Cahill, Palm Springs, 2019

Hilary Baker Cahill invented an augmented reality program that brought people from far afield to stand in the middle of the desert to look at the landscape with added bursts of her own color. Her work acknowledges yet intervenes with what we all know, that the nature now is experienced digitally on your iphone.

Sterling Ruby, Spectre, 2019. Photo by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp 

A different sort of intervention is more problematic: vandalism. The fabric on Eric Mack’s sculpture was stolen. The piece no longer exists. I watched a small child repeatedly kick the flawless inviting surface of Ruby’s sculpture while his mother looked on, eventually saying, “It’s not nice to kick art.”

Organizers try to involve the communities but clearly there are some who are less than welcoming to well-heeled outsiders, artists or viewers, who treat their neighborhoods as curiosities. As a result, two works have been removed but the rest remain through April 21

Bombay Beach Biennale, 2019. Photo by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp.

This is only the second year of Desert X and the first to venture all the way to the Salton Sea where it is possible to see works in the mischievously titled Bombay Beach Bienniale,which is actually held annually. Privately funded and organized by Stefan Ashkenazy, Lily White and Tao Ruspoli, in some ways it is the most interesting of the events.

 James Ostrer, 2018 installation detail, Bombay Beach Bienniale. Photo by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp

Greg Haberny installation detail, 2019 Bombay Beach Bienniale. Photo by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp

Welcoming visitors with a broken ferris wheel that has only one seat and a Showtime sign, many of the small houses and mobile homes around Bombay Beach, at the southern tip of the massive inland lake, have been transformed by artists such as Greg Haberny, Timothy Uriah Steele and James Ostrer, who created a wild performance hall and installation of his own photographs. Yassi Mazandi’s giant white flower sculpture is backed by a MRI-derived digial projection.

2018 Sculpture at Bombay Beach Biennale. Photo by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp.

Kathy Suder’s photographs of the homeless and illuminated field of small tents titled Everybody is Somebody.

Little of this would have evolved without the success of the Coachella Valley Music Festival, now in its 20th year, which has been adding to its roster of giant art experiences such as the tower of light, Spectre, by New Substance. 

Randy Polumbo, Lodestar, 2018. Photo by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp

There is some overlap. Two pieces by Randy Polumbo, including the marvelous dystopian Lodestar, previously at Coachella, are now on view at Bombay Beach. bombaybeachbiennale.org . This is also the weekend of the Joshua Treenial, a gathering to the north of the area organized by Bernard Leibov of BoxoHOUSE with curator KJ Baysa.

Art Queen, High Desert Test Sites and other cultural partners are involved with these events, notably The Integratron, where performances take place from 7 p.m.on Saturday. An extension of Desert X, this year’s show, Paradise::Parallax with two dozen artists, is ONLY on view this weekend, April 12-14

Much of the work draws attention to the environment and ecology, most importantly the preservation of the Salton Sea. This weekend offers a uniquely Southern California art scene in the High Desert complete with wild flowers and warm weather, enjoyable with or without the music.

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Art Talk by Kcrw, Edward Goldman - 1w ago

One month ago, when the announcement was made that the 2019 Pritzker Architecture Prize had been awarded to Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, I thought the timing couldn’t be any better. After all – this is the year that our Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is celebrating its 40 th anniversary, and the museum’s impressive building on Grand Avenue was built by Isozaki. It was his first project in the United States.

Portrait of Architect Arata Isozaki. Courtesy Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/manel_armengol/9700507122)

Isozaki, at age 87, is the oldest recipient of this most important architectural prize. But as they say, good things happen to those who know how to wait… With this announcement, we Angelenos can celebrate the fact that within walking distance in Downtown, we now have three iconic buildings that were designed and built by Pritzker Prize winners.

Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Courtesy Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/dexxus/1609904186)

Just think about Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall built in 2003, which is kitty-corner from Isozaki’s MOCA. Gehry received his Pritzker Prize in 1989, when he was only 60 years old, long before the Guggenheim Bilbao museum made him a global celebrity.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels — entry courtyard with fountain, in Downtown Los Angeles, California. Courtesy Wikimedia (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lacathedral.jpg)

And, let’s walk a couple blocks North on Grand Avenue to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. It was built in 2002, by Spanish architect José Rafael Moneo, who won his Pritzker Prize in 1996, when he was 59 years old. I cannot think about any other city around the world but our City of Angels in which one can find, next to each other, three iconic buildings – dramatically different in their design and also in their material. Isozaki selected red Indian sandstone, Gehry chose stainless steel, and Moneo used adobe colored concrete.

Ed Ruscha. The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire, 1968. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC. Photo © Lee Stalsworth

All the above makes me think about the uncertain fate of an iconic Modernist building, designed by William Pereira in 1965 – the first structure of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. There is a much-discussed controversial plan to erase Pereira’s building, along with other original structures of LACMA, in favor of a new, imposing building that will bridge over Wilshire Boulevard. I wonder what renowned Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha thinks about demolishing the original building, which inspired one of his most famous paintings from 1968, titled Los Angeles County Museum on Fire.

Jeff Koons. Rabbit, 1986. Image courtesy Christie’s.

Now, my friends, I want to alert you of the chance to see some great art this weekend, at Christie’s showroom in Beverly Hills. There are several dozen masterpieces of Impressionist, Modern, Post-War, and Contemporary art. And before I tell you more, I hope you are sitting down. Van Gogh’s landscape is estimated to be sold for about $25 million. Cezanne’s still life is estimated at $40 million. But, Jeff Koons’ shiny Rabbit sculpture is estimated between $50-70 million.

Paul Cezanne. Bouilloire et fruits, 1888-1890. Oil on canvas. Image courtesy Christie’s.

There is something wrong with this picture… why are the great masterpieces of European 19 th century art valued at half the price of Jeff Koons’ Contemporary work? The only answer I have is that Koons has become a “must have” for billionaire collectors. It doesn’t take much time for them to love his work, which grabs their attention with its size and bright colors. They can stand in front of his shiny art and see their reflections. These collectors have a lot of money, but what they don’t have is the time and patience to learn and appreciate art history. To be a great collector, one must be willing not only to spend money, but to educate and challenge oneself.

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Art Talk by Kcrw, Hunter Drohojowska-philp - 2w ago

"Bodega," the Spanish word for a small variety store, is an beloved feature of any neighborhood with a Latinx population: Los Angeles, Miami. In Harlem, it overlaps with the Black population and is inspiration for an art installation by New York- based artist Tschabalala Self called Bodega Run.

Bodegas offer a kaleidoscope of shopping options from lottery tickets to detergent to donuts to beer. Music plays, people chat, a bodega is social refuge in increasingly sterile cities.

Self grew up in Harlem with its rich and diverse history and noticed that even there, gentrification was threatening these lively centers. With degrees from Bard and Yale, she recognized the threat to authenticity and history from even well-meaning creatives moving into the area.

Hammer Projects: Tschabalala Self, Installation view, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, February 2-April 28, 2019. Photo: Joshua White.

She is known for her representations of full-figured Black women made using pieces of fabric stitched into voluptuous compositions. In this show, Self has added sculptural versions of those figures to populate her bodega society.

At the Hammer, when you walk into her version of the little store, you are confronted by the ample buttocks of a clothed woman leaning over in a way that leaves little to the imagination. Larger than life, it is a painted cut-out figure operating on two and three dimensions. Both shocking and funny, it says that life at a bodega is just that, life in all its weird and wonderful moments.

Hammer Projects: Tschabalala Self, Installation view, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, February 2-April 28, 2019. Photo: Joshua White.

The floor is covered in linoleum stripes of red, green and black — colors of the pan-African flag — and the walls papered with hand-drawn shelves bearing jars of apple sauce, mayonaise, Goya nectars. (A nod to Goya as masterful observer of 18th and 19th century social hierarchies.) Hanging on the wall are her sewn fabric panels: a woman walking and smoking, another crouching before the glassed refrigerator and removing a bottle of Negro Modela beer. (Again the double entendre, the beer being chosen by the Black model.) Or maybe she selects it for the bearded Black man towering above her, hands in pockets, though he seems more inclined to Ballantine Ale.

Tschabalala Self, Bodega Run Diptych, 2017. Acrylic, watercolor, flashe, gouache, colored pencil, pencil, hand-colored photocopy, hand-colored canvas on canvas. 96 × 84 in. (243.8 × 213.4 cm), each of 2. Collection of the Luma Foundation, New York.

On another wall, the hand drawn shelves offer Hershey bars and M&Ms. A woman reaches into a cooler for ice cream. Taking in the entire scene is a pair of booted legs with a round security mirror behind where they stand. He may be the proprietor but he is not all there. However, we are, meandering around the bodega, seeing ourselves in that mirror.

Bringing to mind Claes Oldenburg’s The Store of 1961, where his papier mache commodities could be purchased, Self has been making these bodega environments for just a few years. They are an ideal way to present her cast of characters in all their humanity, people maintaining familiar and intimate experiences with one another despite huge pressures from without.

Hammer Projects: Tschabalala Self, Installation view, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, February 2-April 28, 2019. Photo: Joshua White.

Organized by Hammer curator Anne Ellegood, the Self show continues through April 28

By the way, there is another opportunity to see work by Self in Dirty Protest, a potent show of pieces from the Hammer’s collection organized by Aram Moshayedi.

In addition, a work by Self is one of many excellent pieces in Dreamweavers, a well-chosen selection of art organized by Nicola Vassell for Kaseem Dean (Swizz Beatz) at UTA Artists Space through April 13

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Art Talk by Kcrw, Edward Goldman, Hunter Drohoj.. - 2w ago

Every year in Spring, we expect the lovely pleasure of flowers blooming all around us. But, this year, Mother Nature got totally drunk. The “Super Bloom” of wild flowers all over Southern California has brought huge crowds to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve and beyond. I’ve read about long lines of cars waiting for hours to enter parkland. So, I decided to search for less trampled ground, to find wild flowers blooming closer to home. First, I drove up PCH to Temescal Canyon’s The Point at the Bluffs, where I found an expanse of purple flowers. It’s not easy to find this hidden in plain sight park, but once you find your way there, you’ll want to return again and again.


Top: Malibu Creek Park, March 2019. Photo by Edward Goldman. Bottom: Superbloom in Temescal Canyon. Photo by Tom Mobley.

Then, I continued driving North, to Malibu Canyon’s Malibu Creek State Park, where I found mountains covered with fresh grass and the most beautiful blue/purple blooms… I have no idea what kind of flower they are – take a look at the picture on our site and tell me if you know. All these wild blossoms made me think that this Spring has turned our Gods and Angels into artists. And not just any kind of artists, but Impressionists. Maybe, high above us in the Heavens, they are taking lessons from Claude Monet…


Work from Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary, California African American Museum. L: Greg Breda. Untitled (Salt, woman w/big hat), 2013. Acrylic on mylar. R: Kenturah Davis. All Water Has Perfect Memory…, 2018. Oil paint applied with rubber stamp letters and graphite grid on embossed Mohachi paper. Photos by Edward Goldman.

And, talking about lessons… there is an interesting exhibition at California African American Museum (CAAM), Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary, showing works of contemporary black artists getting inspiration and lessons from the art of Charles White, the major American black artist whose retrospective is currently on view at LACMA. These artists’ work resonates with White’s “profound and continuing influence” (CAAM).


Installation shot, Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary, California African American Museum. Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Dwell: Me, We, 2017. Photo by Edward Goldman.

Among the variety of abstract and figurative artworks, one particularly grabbed my attention – a portrait of a contemplative young black woman sitting at a table in her home with a floor made of hundreds of photographic images of black people. Not surprisingly, this large mixed-media artworkis given a place of honor in the exhibition. If I’m not mistaken, it is a self-portrait by the artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby, who received the MacArthur “Genius” Award in 2017.


Installation shot, Adia Millett: Breaking Patterns. California African American Museum. Expansion, 2018. Paint, paper, turf, chaise, vinyl, and sound. Audio by Adia Millet and Michael DuCott. Photo by Edward Goldman.

Another exhibition at CAAM introduced me to the art of Oakland-based artist Adia Millett, with paintings, collages, miniatures, and textiles. But, the attention-grabber was her multi-dimensional installation Expansion, a two-wall mural painting in the shape of a house. Viewers are invited to step onto its grass-covered platform, lounge on a red chaise, and listen to the accompanying audio.


Adia Millett. The Fire Next Time, 2018. Mixed media and gold leaf on wood panel. Part of Adia Millett: Breaking Patterns. California African American Museum. Photo by Edward Goldman.

Another, much smaller, piece shows a house against a shimmering gold sky, with fire breaking through its roof. This image, somehow, is both beautiful and unsettling. And here is why: Adia Millett’s family home burned in the early 90s. Since then, she has used the image of a home in her art as a metaphor for “life and death, destruction and renewal” (CAAM).


Top: Charles Atlas, MC⁹, 2012, Collection Walker Art Center, installation view, Merce Cunningham, Clouds and Screens, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, October 28, 2018–March 31, 2019, © Charles Atlas, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA. Bottom: Detail of poster forFosse/Verdon film. Image courtesy LACMA.

So, let me finish today’s Art Talk with my thanks to two geniuses of dance – Merce Cunningham and Bob Fosse. On Sunday, I went to LACMA to take one last look at their exhibition dedicated to modern dance choreographer Merce Cunningham, which was closing that day. And yesterday, Monday, I was back at LACMA to see the screening of the famous 1979 film directed by Bob Fosse, All That Jazz. Even after four decades, the magic of this movie is still in full bloom. And, if you RSVP soon, we can all meet at LACMA this Thursday for a KCRW Partner Screening of Fosse/Verdon, the new FX show about the personal and professional partnership between Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, one of the great Broadway dancers.

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Art Talk by Kcrw, Hunter Drohojowska-philp - 2w ago

Shows chock full of the detritis of daily life — plastic bags, pieces of clothing, food containers — are commonplace in the contemporary art of today. Those artists may or may not know the art of New York-based artist B. Wurtz — his first name is Bill — who has used commonplace items to evoke special feelings for a little more than 40 years.

B. Wurtz: This Has No Name at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles is the first survey of the artist’s strangely poignant work made since 1980, after he graduated from Cal Arts and moved back to New York.


B. Wurtz. Untitled (bread painting #3), 2010. Acrylic on canvas, plastic, thread 59 x 39 x ¼ in. (149.9 cm x 99.1 cm x 6.4 mm). Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

His minimalist approach is not industrial nor impersonal though it is based on ideas about materials and perception. All of his works are simple, reduced to just a few elements but the homely and engaging aspect of those elements lends agreeable appeal.

The vertical wall at the entrance to the show is covered in dozens of aluminum baking tins arranged in a loose grid. Rectanglar, square, circular, the bottom of each is painted with geometric patterns of color: utilitarian modernism.


B. Wurtz, Pan Paintings, 1992-2018. Acrylic paint on aluminum. Courtesy the artist; Metro Pictures, New York; and Kate MacGarry London. Photo by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp 

One of the largest pieces in the show is similar: Green Basket #2 (1994) A green line drawing of a square is in the center of a circle on a sheet of raw cloth. Like the aluminum pans, it appears at first glance to be some sort of geometric painting. Yet, attached to the center of the fabric square is a wood palette from which two pairs of socks hang, one red and one yellow, and between them, the green plastic fruit basket that inspired the entire piece.


B. Wurtz. Green Basket #2, 1994. Canvas, acrylic paint, wood, tin cans, cloth. 120 × 120 × 3.5 in. (304.80 x 304.80 x 8.89 cm). Photo courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

It is essential to the artist to conceive of a connection between items that he actually uses in his own life and these formal arrangements of color, line and space. He is of the first generation of young artists to come to terms with their immediate predecessors, the Minimalists of the 1960s and Conceptual artists of the 1970s. Steeped in the ideas of that time, Wurtz and others sought intimate, humanistic, responses. He has organized his art around the principles of “sleeping, eating and keeping warm,” while retaining a rigor in the superficially easy methods of their production. They can recall the absurdity of Dada’s Man Ray or the balancing acts of Alexander Calder, both great modern artists who similarly found a sense of delight in the quotidian. The show continues through February 3, 2019.

The Wurtz show was organized by ICA curator Jamillah James, who also arranged Royal Flush, a selection of paintings by New York-based Nina Chanel Abney. Originally organized by the Nasher Museum at Duke, the other half of this, her first museum show, is at the California African American Museum, which I have not yet seen. caammuseum.org


Nina Chanel Abney, Ivy and the Janitor in January, 2009. Acrylic on canvas, 54 × 60 inches (137.2 × 152.4 cm) overall. Image courtesy of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Photo credit: Peter Paul Geoffrion. 

Abney’s paintings are as crowded as Wurtz’s sculptures are spare but they are equally inspired by everyday experience. The ICA show includes paintings from 2007 to the present, all with a vibrant, excited quality. Earlier works are expressive and loose while her more recent work uses printing processes and spray paint. There is a graphic, abbreviated tone and the use of letters and numbers bring to mind the riotous early modern Stuart Davis. The internet, of course, is a more immediate source. Either way, pleasure and politics, race and gender, sorrow and joy, all are intermingled in high style. 

As indicated by the title of this show and its iteration at CAAM, Royal Flush a valuable hand for a card player. Cards come to mind in a number of her paintings. Notably, Catfish (2017), with four connected vertical panels taking up a long wall. It is a tumult of voluptuous women, both dark and light skinned, kneeling and bending, surrounded by dollar signs and the words “yes” or “nope.” They are as unreal as any digitally determined advertisement. Their real potency lies in Abney’s baroque and complex act of painting. The shows at ICA and CAAM continue to January 20, 2019. theicala.com.


Nina Chanel Abney, Catfish, 2017. Unique ultrachrome pigmented print, acrylic, and spray paint on canvas, 102 × 216 inches (259.08 × 548.64 cm). Image courtesy of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Photo credit: Peter Paul Geoffrion. 
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Art Talk by Kcrw, Edward Goldman - 2w ago

Until last week, if you had asked me, “Edward, does any famous artist dominate the cultural scene in Los Angeles right now,” my answer would have been, “No, absolutely not.” But, with three new exhibitions plus a sold-out museum conversation, Chinese artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei has taken over our City of Angels, and we are all better off succumbing to it.


Top and Bottom: Installation shots, Ai Weiwei: Life Cycle. Ai Weiwei. Marciano Art Foundation. Photos by Edward Goldman.


On Thursday, last week, Marciano Art Foundation opened the ambitious, sprawling exhibition by Ai Weiwei, Life Cycle, which features work from the last 10 years. First, we encounter literally millions of tiny porcelain sculptures in the shape of sunflower seeds. 1600 Chinese artisans were engaged to execute this labor-intensive project that brings to mind propaganda posters “of the cultural revolution depicting Mao Zedong as the sun and citizens as sunflowers turning toward him” (MAF).

Another installation, Spouts (2015) sprawls across the floor, consisting of a pile of many thousands of antique teapot spouts. Once again, Ai Weiwei deals with repetition and multiplication, creating a metaphor for a mass of mouths “yearning for freedom of speech” (MAF).

The last and most theatrical installation is one that combines dozens of sculptures made of bamboo and silk, including a gigantic bamboo sculpture, Life Cycle, (2018) of an inflatable boat with refugees inside. Above the boat, suspended in the air, sculptures representing creatures from Chinese mythology.


LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director Michael Govan in conversation with artist Ai Weiwei. LACMA. Photo by Edward Goldman.

 

On Friday night, Ai Weiwei was on the stage at LACMA with museum Director Michael Govan, talking about his life, his art, his philosophy. It was amazing to encounter his self-deprecating sense of humor. He is an extremely rare example of a famous artist taking his work and art seriously, but not himself.


Installation shot, Ai Weiwei: Zodiac. Ai Weiwei. Jeffrey Deitch. Photo by Edward Goldman.


On Saturday, Ai Weiwei’s exhibition Zodiac opened at Jeffrey Deitch, the new 15,000 sq ft gallery in Hollywood. Once again, I was wondering at the massive installation comprised of nearly 6000 antique wooden stools, gathered from villages across China; all of them similar, each of them individual.

And of course, I am eager to see the third Ai Weiwei exhibition that opens this Thursday at the UTA Artist Space in Beverly Hills – the gallery that was architecturally redesigned by the artist himself.


Landscape with Two Derelict Castles, 1847. Victor Hugo. The Hammer. Photo by Edward Goldman.


On Sunday, I went to The Hammer to see the new exhibition, Stones to Stains: The Drawings of Victor Hugo. Who would believe that this most famous 19 th century French writer – the author of Les Misérables – was an artist, as well?


L: Souvenir of a Castle in the Vosges, 1857. R: Abstract Composition with Fingerprints, 1864-65. Victor Hugo. The Hammer. Photo by Edward Goldman.


And not just an OK craftsman; but an inventive painter with an affinity for semi and totally abstract compositions. Just take a look at some of the images on our website – look at what Hugo does with brown ink and wash, smearing it messily around with brushes and fingers.


L: Silhouette of a Tower, 1855. R: Stain. 1850-1855. Victor Hugo. The Hammer. Photo by Edward Goldman.


If you didn’t know that Victor Hugo lived and worked in the 19 th century, you would swear that some of his abstractions and cutouts were made 100 years later, in the mid 20 th century.

And yesterday, I read an article in the NY Times about another great writer – this time, an American playwright, who wrote A Streetcar Named Desire – Tennessee Williams. A current exhibition at The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU presents him as a rather compelling painter. For me, it was another revelation.

Damn, isn’t it unfair that Gods and Muses bestow such diverse talents upon some people?

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Art Talk by Kcrw, Hunter Drohojowska-philp - 2w ago

What is the point of making a painting? It seems such a basic question but it is one continually provoked by one of L.A.-based artist, Lari Pittman. Portraits of Textiles & Portraits of Humans, his new exhibition at Regen Projects is both disturbing and delightful for just that reason.


Installation view of Lari Pittman Portraits of Textiles & Portraits of Human at Regen Projects, Los Angeles. Photo credit: Brian Forrest, Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles 

Centuries of being considered the dominant fine art, painting has been challenged for a century by the advent of photography, video and the advent of the digital age. What is the point of slavishly using a brush and liquid color on canvas or panel? One point is that the best painting can still stop time. Or at least slow it down. It is reported that viewers spend less than thirty seconds looking at any painting in a museum. An artist cannot control the response of the viewer but the best painting can and should be arresting.

Of Columbian heritage and acutely aware of the current political climate, Pittman is considered one of the most influential painters of his generation. With a graduate degree from Cal Arts, he is a distinguished professor in the UCLA art department. He is renowned for his use of motifs drawn from the unconventional sources of decorative arts as well as fine and popular arts.


Lari Pittman. Portrait of a Textile (Brocade) 2018. Cel-vinyl, spray enamel on canvas over wood panel. 81 x 70 x 2 inches (205.7 x 177.8 x 5.1 cm). © Lari Pittman, Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles 

It is fair to say that none of these sources is chosen without a significant amount of consideration. Though Pittman has never been afraid of seduction or beauty, his work always has a bit of bite.


Installation view of Lari Pittman Portraits of Textiles & Portraits of Humans at Regen Projects, Los Angeles. Photo credit: Brian Forrest, Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles 

In this group of paintings, Pittman, now 66, addresses two themes: portraits and textiles. The former belongs in the canon of art history, the other in the realm of decorative arts. Pittman’s panels of repetitive motifs, fabrics based on baroque, jacquard, or eyelit fabric, incorporate unexpected instruments of violence: axes, hedge-clippers or scythes arranged over backgrounds abundant with flowers and fruits, buildings or birds, all rendered in a highly stylized manner. Others include symbolic elements such as golden keys arrayed diagonally over a grid of archways and thistles in tones of lime green.


Installation view of Lari Pittman Portraits of Textiles & Portraits of Humans at Regen Projects, Los Angeles. Photo credit: Brian Forrest, Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles 

Each textile is accompanied by a portrait though the faces are more schematic than realistic. All rectangular in format, the textile paintings are larger than the portraits but in the gallery they hang in relation to one another and are unified by a common color scheme. Each pair is executed in the oddball hues typical of Pittman’s art: lilac, rose, ultramarine blue. With time, each painting reveals layers and layers of discreet meaning. 


Installation view of Lari Pittman Portraits of Textiles & Portraits of Humans at Regen Projects, Los Angeles. Photo credit: Brian Forrest, Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles 

In one painting, black shovels arrayed at angles carry the off-white impressions of a narrow, Victorian style buildings with multiple windows and, in one case, topped with a cross. An array of open white flowers bloom across a background of sapphire, emerald and ruby. Titled Portrait of a Textile (Cotton Eyelet with Embroidery) (2018), there is an accompanying portrait of a cadaverous white face impaled by a bent arrow in similar colors. It is titled, Portrait of a Human (Pathos, Ethos, Logos, Kairos #11) 2018.


Lari Pittman. Portrait of a Human (Pathos, Ethos, Logos, Kairos #7) 2018. Cel vinyl and spray paint over linen mounted on wood panel. 28 1/2 x 24 1/2 x 1 3/4 inches (72.4 x 62.2 x 4.4 cm). © Lari Pittman, Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles

All of the portraits have the same title though with different numbers. Those titles refer to Greek terms, now common in English, for deep sadness, the spirit of an era, the logic of argument and, most important, reference to the fact that this is a critical time, an opportune moment for change. That word is Kairos.

Though each work is individual, the paintings were rendered as pairs, with each picture asking visual questions of the other and of us.

Pittman demonstrates how an artist can push through self-imposed restrictions to manifest unexpected levels of accomplishment. Not just in terms of his considerable technical prowess but in terms of the complexity of ideology. Symbolically, it is not difficult to find coded messages on resilience, resistance and rage, all in keeping with the news of today. Back to the point about painting and the complexity of the times in which we live. They are times that requires thoughtful response, the sort that is well served by … painting. The show continues through October 25. regenprojects.com.

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I do remember how, decades ago, when the Los Angeles art scene was much more modest, it was not easy to find gallery or museum exhibitions that were worthy to talk about every week on this program. Now, the Los Angeles art scene is exploding, with new galleries opening, it seems, every week. These days, my biggest challenge is how to choose from so many important, intriguing exhibitions happening all over town.


Top and Bottom: Installation view, Earth Works: Mapping the Anthropocene. Justin Brice Guariglia. USC Fisher Museum of Art. Photo by Edward Goldman.

So, my choice for today’s Art Talk is two exhibitions at USC Fisher Museum of Art: both are visually arresting, and both make you think twice about what you see and how to interpret and understand it. The title of one exhibition there, Earth Works: Mapping the Anthropocene, refers to humanity’s permanent mark on the planet. 


Installation view, Earth Works: Mapping the Anthropocene. Justin Brice Guariglia. USC Fisher Museum of Art. Photo by Edward Goldman.

This exhibition of two dozen photography-based images by Justin Brice Guariglia is focused on his participation in NASA’s Operation Ice Bridge mission. He joined NASA in flying over melting glaciers to document and illustrate how they are affecting sea level rise. From a distance, his photographic works have a sculptural, relief affect. But, come closer, and you will be surprised to discover a rich texture and physical depth that seems to fuse photography and painting. In his artwork, Guariglia uses a complicated archival printing process that builds layers of acrylic and incorporates materials such as gold, pewter-leaf, and aircraft-grade aluminum.


Installation view, Janet Sternburg: LIMBUS. USC Fisher Museum of Art. Photo by Edward Goldman.

The second exhibition at Fisher Museum features large-scale photographs by Janet Sternburg, titled Limbus. Thankfully, the press release helped me to understand that the Limbus is the rim of the cornea where the pupil meets the white of the eye; the home of infinitely generative stem cells.


Installation view, Janet Sternburg: LIMBUS. USC Fisher Museum of Art. Photo by Edward Goldman.

Standing in front of these large, mysterious color photographs, one not only sees layers upon layers of images, one also starts to have the illusion of hearing soft sounds in the background. Using single-use, disposable cameras and her iPhone, Janet Sternburgcaptures moments full of ambiguity. She stands in front of store windows to capture images of what is inside, behind the glass, and the blurry reflections of the world outside. In some images, you even see the reflection of the artist, holding a camera, which she uses not as a documentarian, but as a poet.


Installation view, Frank Stella: Recent Work. Sprüth Magers Los Angeles. Photo by Edward Goldman.

I also want to tell you about two more exhibitions that you don’t want to miss. Sprüth Magers Los Angeles presents the first major exhibition of work by Frank Stella in LA since 1995. And quite a diverse new group of work it is, especially considering the artist is 82 years old – or as I prefer to say it, 82 years young. Among his inspirations, Stella lists the 18-century German writer and theorist Heinrich von Kleist, and Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti. Surprising choices, indeed… 


Installation view, Karel Appel: Out of Nature. Blum & Poe Los Angeles. Photo by Edward Goldman. 

And, be sure to climb up to the second-floor gallery of Blum & Poe to enjoy beautifully installed paintings by Dutch artist Karel Appel (1921-2006), co-founder of the European avant-garde art movement CoBrA.

So, let me know if you’ve seen an interesting exhibition that you think I shouldn’t miss. I’m always happy to hear from you, my friends…

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Art Talk by Kcrw, Edward Goldman, Hunter Drohoj.. - 2w ago

If the name R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) brings up any associations in the 21st century, it is for his creation of the geodesic dome. This structure looks complex because it is made of interconnected geometric forms that result in a slightly spherical shape. It has been used for decades as inexpensive and pragmatic shelter, an alternative to more traditional but also more costly methods of construction that involve foundations and load- bearing walls.


Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983). The Triad: Twelve Degrees of Freedom; Six Part Push/Pull Tensegrity; and Geodesic Tensegrity Sphere, 90 Strut, Edition 5 of 10, 1980. Stainless steel rods and coated stainless steel tendons. Dimensions vary. 

Fuller, who was not a trained architect, had countless ideas of this sort and a pithy collection of them can be seen at Edward Cella Art & Architecture through Nov. 3. R. Buckminster Fuller: Inventions and Models includes prints, multiples and objects that demonstrate his methods of making and thinking, the first such show in L.A. since he passed away here in 1983. Most of the work is on loan from private collections. Fuller is known as a visionary thinker and designer but his dedication to saving the planet from the drives and demands of its inhabitants has greater relevance today than when he authored Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth in 1969. His ideas for addressing over-population, scarce resources, urban congestion and global migration dating back to the 1920s, remain inspiring and influential today.


Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983). Dymaxion Dwelling House - Wichata House, From Inventions Portfolio, Edition 7 of 60, 1981. Screenprinted clear film, a duotone screenprint on Lenox 100% rag paper, and a blue backing leaf of Curtis 100% rag paper. 30 x 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm) 

This show includes a number of open-weave globular objects made from stainless steel rods held in place by wire or hinges via his method of “tensegrity,” the word that he coined for tensional integrity. The structures, not more than two-feet in diameter, appear solidly constructed but their strength comes instead from floating compression with the rods balanced against one another.


Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983). Geodesic Stuctures - Monohex, From Inventions Portfolio, Edition 7 of 60, 1981. Screenprinted clear film, a duotone screenprint on Lenox 100% rag paper, and a blue backing leaf of Curtis 100% rag paper. 30 x 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm). 

The show also includes a series of large multi- layered prints illustrating some of his 25 patented plans for concepts like the Dymaxion Dwelling, a pre-fabricated house that could be mass produced and airlifted into place as needed. More whimsical is the Dymaxion Rowing Shell, a light-weight watercraft made of a seat and oars atop what look like giant knitting needles. An actual example of the Rowing Shell hangs from the ceiling of the gallery.


Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983). Dymaxion Rowing Shell, Edition 4 of 5, 1970/1999. Fiberglass, aluminum, carbon fiber, paint. 320 x 8 in. (812.8 x 20.3 cm). 21 feet long by 70 inches wide from oarlock to oarlock, and 24 inches tall. Each oar is 117" inches long. 

The prints and models were produced in collaboration with Cincinatti-based art dealer Carl Solway, who met Fuller through composer John Cage. The inventor and composer had been teaching together at the now legendary Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Many of Solway’s editions are small or even unique and produced near the end of Fuller’s life.

Three posters in the show demonstrate Fuller’s radical humanism including one with white text on black paper asking, “If the success or failure of this planet and of human beings depended on how I am and what I do…How would I be? What would I do?” Fuller’s views and his solutions seem hauntingly pressing today.


Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983). Love is omni-inclusive offset poster. 32 1/4 x 22 1/4 in. (81.9 x 56.5 cm). 

To learn more about Fuller and his legacy, there are two programs at the gallery. This Saturday, Sept. 22, architect Thomas T.K. Zung, student, collaborator and partner in the firm Fuller, Sadao & Zung, gives an illustrated talk at 3 p.m. and signs copies of his new book Buckminster Fuller, Anthology for the Millenium.

On Oct. 13, at 3 p.m. Fuller’s daughter Allegra Fuller Snyder will be in conversation about with David McConville, both of the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

For more information, go to edwardcella.com.

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