Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hints of Being Free

First things first -- A Wet Rock in Space, 2009, acrylic and oil on canvas:

Aaaaand, Her Second Greatest Hatred, 2009, acrylic and oil on canvas:

Allright, so, ArtLA. About as "not bad" as it has been in past years, I guess. Great polenta with scallops and shrimp at the opening night reception. Maybe it was the hints of fennel, or the hints of being free, but it was especially good. Best thing I saw was a painting by Adrian Ghenie from Nicodim Gallery, from right here in Chinatown. Tim Hawkinson's work at the Ace Gallery booth was dope, as always. He's with Blum and Poe now I hear. (Just heard it, though.) I got stopped by MOCA membership people because I was representin' with my I HEART MOCA pin, and I got to complain to them about how I never get the member opening invites. Saturday my invite to the Dan Graham show was in the mailbox. Anybody want to go to the Dan Graham opening with me? It's on Feb 14th. Romantic.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cheap Scotches and Moody Lighting

Wow so it’s been over a month. I sit here listening to History: America’s Greatest Hits ( the band, not the country) on my fathers old turntable, an Akai AP-A1. Finally got the right cartridge and stylus for it, and a box full of records scoured from Pop’s collection, and all is right in the world. Not really, but let’s roll with the feeling of the moment shall we? POINTLESS TRIVIA: The album cover art for America’s Greatest Hits was illustrated by late great SNL cast member, Paul Rubens collaborator, and Simpsons voice Phil Hartman. No shit. His signature is at the bottom of the picture.

So I’ve been working for Art Fairs, Inc., during the Photo LA show, and have seen more photographs than I ever wanted to. And my conclusion: As soon as sex was invented, they were working on photography next. The only pics I could dial into from the dozens of exhibitors were ones that showed me sex. I mean that in the broadest sense, but arty images of women doing things in various states of undress will always be ‘in’. If I weren’t in such and overworked and underfucked haze at the moment, I would extol a whole brilliant theory about how all photography is about sex, the way all art is about death, and politics, and narrative, but that is best left as an impromptu conversation over some cheap scotches and moody lighting.

On the film front, Milk by Gus Van Sant is as good as everyone says it is. Harvey Milk’s story stands alongside that of MLK, Ghandi, and Bobby Sands (who has gotten the film treatment by video artist Steve McQueen last year…where is Hunger playing?). The opera analogy at the end was almost over the top, but ‘over the top’ was perhaps one of themes of the film and the life of the titular character.

Waltz With Bashir by Ari Folman is super great. A visually arresting hybrid animation style graphically delivers what would normally be difficult and politically loaded imagery, resulting in a spectacular metaphor for the films themes of memory, experience, and regret. Folman does not shy away from the absurd and costly effects that what he experienced has had on humanity, though. Saw this with my friend Maxwell, who has had experiences not unlike that seen in the film (at least compared to me) and was glad he and my pal Joe Biel recommended the film, as I now recommend it to you.

Oh, yeah, art. Did the grand tour Saturday night, and liked a lot of what I saw:

Asgar/Gabriel -- Bucolica ObscuraAsgar/Gabriel at Mark Moore Gallery: Big, sexy paintings, that have big, sexy, imagery. Though you could dismiss them as very ‘hip’ paintings, I love em. Though I want to know how the duo deivides up the labor on the paintings, but that's just nerdy painting stuff. If you see the show, don’t forget to look at the new Alison Schulnik painting in the office area…very tasty.

Kaz Oshiro – False Gestures at Rosamund Felsen Gallery: So the title’s a little literal, but Oshiro is a badass. Hyperreal sculptures of, just, you know, stuff, made out of paintings. This is so artist nerdy, so ‘gotta get smart to get art’, so….great. What does it mean? I connect him to the Raushchenberg-ian idea of the combine (combines painting and sculpture) but much more current and slick, and devoid of any expressionist baggage. Some of the works are actually on the wall, which is an unexpected move, and some are completely abstract but still crafted airtight…keep your eyes on this Angeleno.

Robyn O’Neil – A World Disrupted at Roberts and Tilton Gallery: Yeah so she’s one of my dearest friends, (and maybe…relocating…to the City of Angels….???) but her work has always been dopeatronic and an inspiration, and her first LA outing is no different. Using the first physical medium any of us had artistic notions with, Robyn weaves her graphite magic on breathtaking scales, inviting the viewer to feel the chill wind of her ominous environments. Luckily, there are black sweatpants and a matching sweatshirt for all who find themselves within her grey, disconcerting worlds. And John Voight was at the opening, yo!

David E. Stone – Unanticipated Despair at Charlie James Gallery: In a time when lots of galleries are going under, Mr. James has opened his doors in Chinatown with a clear but flexible vision and lots of fresh, new work. This second show is a left turn visually from the first, but reflective of what Charlie tells me of his ideas for the space, and Stone took full advantage. There were lots of thought provoking elements floating about the room, but the show-stealing piece was the pile of broken glass in the middle of the room arranged to look like a Twister mat -- Precarious Twister (State I), which, if I had been drunker, I would have phone pic’d and sent to about a half dozen artists I know who have incurable glass fetishes.

I guess that’s all I remember for now. The new Kramers Ergot is as big as a shield, and so far is the cosmic orgasm of a comic book the previous ones were. Just putting the thing in my lap to look at it feels ritualistic; its too big for my big sexy bookshelves – the thing has its own chair. I got a pile of books for Christmas, and at some point I’ll tell you all about them. But right now, I just want to finish The Heart is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. Page 274, near the bottom of the page – “They both turned at the same time….” Sexiest. Paragraph. Ever.