There is a playful element to many of the works that are showing at this year’s ALAC, from Todd Norsten’s straightforward SH T to Jay Stuckey’s of-the-moment, bitterly humorous Donald at ANAT EBGI’s Guernica-inspired booth.
Los Angeles’s ANAT EBGI provides one of the most visually striking group exhibitions of the whole show, presenting only works in greyscale in a nod to Picasso’s masterpiece which has its 80th anniversary this year. Guernica was painted at a time of deep unrest and right-wing uprising around Europe and the selection of works mirrors this, commenting on the tension that we currently find ourselves experiencing. Stuckey’s Donald is one of the most blatant references to our times. The humour here—including Trump’s unconventional use of the English language (bigly, anyone?)—and the light insults which are thrown at our new world leader—“loser”, “suck it”, “in your face”—sit uncomfortably with the impending doom that the Donald promises, as he shifts from laughing stock to serious threat. Illusion is also a recurring theme in the work, whether by repetition as in Neil Raitt’s moody black and white depiction of a tropical scene, or Julie Henson’s shadow puppetry in Easy and Fast!.
The world experiences a turning on its head of sorts in Gordon Cheung’s work with Edel Assanti, in which the human body defies its expected limits, a pair of single feet bearing the weight of a ladder loaded with five other bodies in Juggling Weighty Properties with the Feet, and melting into the surrounding space in Jumping Through Hoops. The works are created using a glitch in a computer algorithm which redistributes pixels from original works—paintings or photographs—with no visual information lost, simply reorganised; a new reality formed.
Contortion and illusion play a part in the selection of works at Shulamit Nazarian, with leathery, sausage-like forms twisted and tied in knots in the works of May Wilson, bodiless fingers appearing around the edges of Sarah Meyohas’s hall of mirrors in Sun Speculation, and puffs of form-obscuring smoke in the artist’s Blue Speculation. Ghebaly Gallery is showing a solo exhibition of work by Kathleen Ryan, whose sculptures are material-defying, including her concrete balloons which contain elements of both weightlessness and extreme solidity.
Words are a key feature of Eve Fowler’s works, who is showing solo with Mier Gallery. The artist appropriates phrases from figures such as Gertrude Stein, and her screenprinted canvases combine impactful political statements with commanding colours that at times call to mind the digital—as with the smooth transition from yellow to orange in Let us wash our hair and stare at mountain ranges—to different national flags.
Katherine Bradford and Todd Norsten, both showing with Adams and Ollman, favour simplicity, both in humour and composition. Norsten’s SH T leaves itself open to interpretation (Perhaps it simply says “shot”? Perhaps the foreboding expletive doesn’t refer to the clusterf*ck we’re currently experiencing?). His Desert Sunset—perfect for LA—is similarly effective in its pared-backness. Bradford’s simplicity also leaves room for the viewer’s interpretation, her character in Diver Over Boat, for example, presenting a figure suspended mid-leap, both still and active, surrounded by white paint. Whether he’s jumping into crystal blue waters or the void, we aren’t quite sure.
‘Art Los Angeles Contemporary’ runs from 26 until 29 January. artlosangelesfair.com