Mildred Howard: A Survey, 1978 – 2020

Mildred Howard: A Survey, 1978 – 2020

Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, Los Angeles

15 August – 26 September, 2020 By appointment only

Howard’s expansive oeuvre addresses the universal themes of racism and injustice directly and without hesitation; her work considers these themes through the lens of language, objects, and imagery that unfolds and reveals itself upon closer inspection.

Ten Little Children Standing in a Line (One Got Shot, and Then There Were Nine), 1991
mixed media installation (brass bullet casings, copper glove molds, photomural)
dimensions variable

The works in this exhibition exemplify the range of materials Howard has used throughout her career, including fiber, blown glass, printmaking, found objects, photo collage, painting, and installation. Howard’s early works, which often include objectified depictions of her own body, explore the African diaspora, focusing on identity and relationships to nature. Some of these pieces trace the histories of migrant families like her own, and feature personal memorabilia and found objects stitched together. In the late 1970s, Howard began experimenting with colored Xerox machines–then an exciting, new technology–creating collages and self-portraits by positioning images and real objects together on the scanner bed to form high-contrast and saturation impressions.

On the rebound, 2010
basketball hoop with globe
22 x 14 x 7 inches

Memories are central to Howard’s work: she responds to personal experiences and expands outward, paying homage to past lives. The installation Ten Little Children Standing in a Line (One Got Shot, and Then There Were Nine) (1991), for example, was created in response to the 1976 massacre of schoolchildren in Soweto, South Africa. The Soweto Uprising occurred during an otherwise peaceful protest lead by schoolchildren against the Apartheid policy to teach only in Afrikaans, the language of oppression, rather than in English. (Official reports state between 176 and 700 people murdered, with 4,000 injured–in contrast to the six stated in the initial AP newswire.) Howard recalled her reaction to news of the event, exclaiming, “These could be my kids. We are all affected by racism!” Pleasing to behold, the wall-based element of Ten Little Children Standing in a Line, installed in the form of an expanding grid, emits the disarming illusion of balance and order. Upon closer inspection of the components comprising this work, however, the viewer sees that the grid is made of thousands of used bullet casings. In this work and others, Howard aims to draw out discomfort and unease from the viewer with the hope that a collective motivation to challenge forces of power within society will follow.

You Are Welcome Here, 2020
found glass bottles, wood, glue
17-1/2 x 28-1/2 x 18-7/8 inches

The playful, rounded glass figures of Parenthetically Speaking…It’s Only a Figure of Speech (2010) were conceived of in response to Quincy Troupe’s poem “At the End,” wherein punctuation is pointedly employed to denote the passing of time and power of memory. Howard highlights how punctuation controls the flow of language, and dictates the way in which a reader stops, pauses, or moves forward. A literal play on words–though words are absent–Parenthetically Speaking embodies Howard’s ongoing investigation of interpretation and questioning.

Still Water Run Deep, 2001
mixed media sculpture
32 x 12-1/4 x 17-3/4 inches

The sculpture You Are Welcome Here (2020) is made from an assortment of found glass bottles and wooden posts that form a hybrid structure: a combine featuring elements adopted from Joseph Eichler’s modernist architecture and a model of slave quarters. Eichler was notably one of the first architects who did not discriminate against homeowners on the basis of ethnicity, class, or religion–a rare and revolutionary act in the 1940s and ‘50s. Howard also cites a passage from James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, wherein the narrator encounters vari-colored glass bottles that appear to grow from the ground. The glass bottles in this structure–spirit catchers meant to ward away evil–illuminate the interior of the space; they simultaneously protect the house as a shrine of memories and render it susceptible to intrusion.

Untitled, 1979
color Xerox photo collage
11-7/8 x 8-3/8 inches

Howard’s conceptually-driven assemblages depict the human experience and the anthropological quest for knowledge. Her work is deeply personal yet universal. In positioning each individual experience as one element of a larger, collective history, Howard re-defines and contextualizes this shared identity, expelling stereotypes by taking hold of ideas and rendering them powerless.

Mildred Howard (b. 1945, San Francisco, CA) completed her Associates of Arts Degree & Certificate in Fashion Art at the College of Alameda, Alameda, CA in 1977 and received her M.F.A. from Fiberworks Center for the Textile Arts at John F. Kennedy University in Berkeley, CA in 1985. In 2015, she received the Lee Krasner Award in recognition of a lifetime of artistic achievement. She has also been the recipient of the Nancy Graves Grant for Visual Artists (2017), the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (2004/5), a fellowship from the California Arts Council (2003), the Adeline Kent Award from San Francisco Art Institute (1991), and, most recently, an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts and the Douglas G. MacAgy Distinguished Achievement Award at San Francisco Art Institute (2018). Her large-scale installations have been mounted at: Creative Time in New York, InSITE in San Diego, CA; the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA; the National Museum of Women in the Arts; the New Museum in New York, the City of Oakland; and the San Francisco Arts Commission and International Airport. Her works reside in the permanent collections of: SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA; the de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA; the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego, CA; the Museum of Glass and Contemporary Art, Tacoma, WA; the Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA; and the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA, among others.



Steve Turner, Los Angeles

20 june / 18 July 2020

Steve Turner presents Why you really mad?, a solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based David Leggett which features paintings and works on paper from the last few years that utilize a comic style to deal with serious subjects like racial injustice and police brutality alongside lighter ones like art history and pop culture. While he makes his works accessible with colorful depictions of Bart Simpson, Fat Albert, Alfred E. Newman and other somewhat familiar blobby characters coupled with catchy phrases, he does so to get you in. Once there, you will have to face the more difficult issues that are part of every work. The question in the title is Leggett’s, one he poses to anyone who might take offense at his work. 

Why you really mad? Installation view, Steve Turner, 2020
Why you really mad? Installation view, Steve Turner, 2020
Why you really mad? Installation view, Steve Turner, 2020
Why you really mad? Installation view, Steve Turner, 2020
David Leggett. I got it wholesale, 2019. Acrylic, spray paint, color pencil and collage on paper, 48 x 42 inches (121.9 x 106.7 cm)
David Leggett. Who that is?, 2020. Acrylic and felt on canvas, 12 x 9 inches (30.5 x 22.9 cm)
David Leggett. Not with my daughter, 2020. Acrylic, screen print, watercolor, color pencil and rubber stamp on paper, 20 x 16 inches (50.8 x 40.6 cm)

David Leggett (born 1980) earned a BFA at Savannah College of Art and Design (2003) and an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2007) before attending Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2010). He has had solo exhibitions at Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago (2017 & 2019) and his work has been included in group exhibitions at Zidoun & Bossuyt Gallery, Luxembourg; James Fuentes Gallery, New York; Kunstverein Langenhagen, Germany and the Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh, North Carolina. This is his first exhibition at Steve Turner, Los Angeles.

Alex Anderson: Little Black Boy Makes Imperial Porcelains

Alex Anderson: Little Black Boy Makes Imperial Porcelains

Gavlak, Los Angeles

Until 11 Jun 2020

At the core of Anderson’s current body of work is a philosophical, existential examination of identity politics; based in Los Angeles, the 30-year old gay, Asian-African American sculptor is an artist working against stereotype and racialism rapant in today’s society. By working in an unexpected medium and channeling methodologies surrounding artistic production in ceramic arts, Anderson manages to create fantastic, multifaceted sculptures that are both subversive and whimsical at the same time. Alex Anderson uses the classical aesthetics of western power, which ironically share space with the aesthetics of queer camp cultural production, to translate the structures that govern his lived experience in society and others’ social perceptions of his identities into form. While his work engages with the ceramic canon and draws from the western art historical canon at large, it primarily operates at the core of Post-Blackness.

Anderson’s method of production directly corresponds with current aesthetic and artistic practices and ideologies surrounding theories of Post-Black art. Working at the intersection of identity politics and aesthetic empowerment, Anderson’s ceramic creations appear charming and playful, but their frivolity is only glaze-deep. The artist’s work layers conceptions about blackness, masculinity, and perception, folding them onto one another until they become inextricably fused together, reciprocating the merging of his own personal lived experiences, historical inheritance, and conscious self-awareness as his artistic point of departure. 

Criticality, political derision, and gender politics all become relevant schematics for Anderson’s sculptural oeuvre. Each of his identities has a history of marginalization, received violence, and fetishization and a contemporary story of their rise to power through assimilation and mastery of the white, western systems that continue to mediate society today. His work gives form to the realities, stereotypes, and social perceptions of each identity he lives and the complex aporic spaces they create between one another. Anderson seeks to create a metaphorical world of objects that distills his understanding of what it means and how it feels to live at the intersection of identities, and his resultative place in the contemporary social world.

The idea of blackness as a concept and culture in its own right also informs how the artist engages with the other identities that comprise his larger self. The freedom of not having to confine his content into a narrow, deterministic view of what the art of a certain identity looks like also extends to the manner in which he is able to express his Asian and gay identities in his practice.

Anderson lives in a black body, complicated by its containment of the African-American, Japanese, and gay identity politics respective to his multifarious backgrounds. Each of these identities has a history of marginalization, received violence, and fetishization; all of the artist’s inner selves represents a contemporary story of their rise to power through assimilation and mastery of the white, western systems that continue to mediate society today. Anderson’s ceramic sculptures give form to the realities, stereotypes, and social perceptions of each of his  identities and the complex aporic spaces they create between one another.

These aforementioned social structures take literal form in the physical structures of Anderson’s work. The white and gold leitmotif and the visual language of Western, European Baroque luxury guides the format the artist employs to express his content. There are both human and inanimate components in each of his sculptures. Anything we can perceive as being alive in each work navigates a rigid, severely perfectionist, white, opulent, and superficially beautiful system grounded in the histories of Western power as a parallel to the artist’s engagement with the structurally white world we all occupy. These forms and the ceramic medium itself index to the early imperialism that created the social, cultural and political constructs we continue to navigate today. Imperialist nations traded ceramics sourced from Asia the same way they traded African slaves;  these objects were ultimately consumed by the elite and aristocratic Europeans who today embody the visual affect of femininity, gayness and camp. The work is intersectional and implacable in any specific world other than the one created by Anderson’s position as an artist. Subscribing to the Bourdieusian theory that art is the practice of artists taking unique positions in history, Anderson posits his own identity and experience in relation to a greater social whole. Bourdieu’s work was primarily concerned with the dynamics of power in society, especially the diverse and subtle ways in which power is transferred and social order is maintained within and across generations. In conscious opposition to the idealist tradition of much of Western philosophy, his work often emphasized the corporeal nature of social life and stressed the role of practice and embodiment in social dynamics. Anderson, as a post-black, post-Civil Rights artist continues his ancestral tradition of challenging the defamatory and injust, white patriarchal systems he currently inhabits in order to occupy and subvert them in a way that leaves an undeniable mark on contemporary, visual art.

The larger Post-Black canon allows for his work to begin to establish itself as a unique position that speaks to his own truth, offering one perspective of the multivalent experience of contemporary black hybridity. As curator at the museum and author of the Freestyle exhibition catalogue essay most famous for its assertion that: “Post-Black is the new Black;” Thelma Golden provides a definitive culturally-sound initiative for Post-Black artists: art as that which includes artists who are “adamant about not being labeled ‘black’ artists, though their work was steeped, in fact deeply interested, in redefining complex notions of blackness.” She continued, “They are both post-Basquiat and post-Biggie. They embrace the dichotomies of high and low, inside and outside, tradition and innovation, with a great ease and facility.” 

In this vein, Anderson’s  work acknowledges histories of adversity and mobility, but ultimately asks and attempts to offer an answer to the question “so, now what?” “What are we now that we can access the heights of a society seeped in not only black, but also Asian and gay blood, built to disenfranchise us?” The answer his work offers is that he is what he calls ‘an interloper:’ a staid, but uninvited presence in white society positioned by privilege and the social commodities that counter the negative social positioning his identities invite within our social paradigm. Imagery once used to deride takes re-contextualized form as culturally conceptual symbols and signs that comment on the imagery itself and its social context. Anderson’s  chosen content and visual aspect tends toward absurdity to the extreme, in order to reflect the social dogmas of his lived experience. Each work is an instantiated approach to saying, “This is what it’s like. And so is this. And so is this.” 

Images > Alex Anderson: Little Black Boy Makes Imperial Porcelains installation views, Courtesy Gavlak, Los Angeles

Tom Wudl, The Flowerbank World.

Tom Wudl, The Flowerbank World.

L.A. Louver, Los Angeles

11 Mar 2020 – 30 May 2020

Temporary closed

Over the past two decades, Wudl has taken inspiration from the revered Buddhist text, the Avatamsaka Sutra (The Flower Ornament Scripture), to create an ongoing series of painstakingly detailed paintings, drawings and prints made in response to the text’s evocative and profound literary descriptions. Considered “the most colorful and dramatic rehearsals of Buddhist teachings,” the Avatamsaka Sutra is believed to be one of the earliest discourses by the Buddha.

Tom Wudl / Untitled, 1973 / pencil, crayon, liquitex & paper punch / 65 1/4 x 87 1/2 in. (165.7 x 222.3 cm)

“The ground was solid and firm, made of diamond, adorned with exquisite jewel discs and myriad precious flowers, with pure clear crystals. The finest jewels appeared spontaneously, raining inexhaustible quantities of gems and beautiful flowers all over the earth. By the Buddha’s spiritual power, he caused all the adornments of this enlightenment site to be reflected therein.”
(Cleary, Thomas. The Flower Ornament Scripture: A Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra)

Tom Wudl / One Hundred Trillion Concentrations, 2015 / acrylic, 22K gold, gum arabic on rice paper over wood panel / framed: 33 1/4 x 39 1/8 in. (84.5 x 99.4 cm)

Wudl has employed formal conventions to translate the textual descriptions of the sutra into dense compositions in which tightly rendered flowers, jewels, geometric forms and club motifs disperse in manifold arrangements – some of which feature paper engineered geodesic constructions that extend beyond the two-dimensional plane. Painted and drawn with pencil, gouache, acrylic and 22K gold powder, Wudl often uses ultra-fine pencils and brushes in order to achieve infinitesimal minute details. He then transcribes the imagery onto delicate tissue-thin materials and papers that speak to the ephemerality of the sutra’s teachings. For Wudl, the exacting process requires sustained attentiveness and mindful determination, byproducts achieved through his continued mediation practice.

Tom Wudl / Radiance of Sublime Reality Filling the Cosmos without End, 2015 / acrylic, 22K gold, gum arabic, pencil and gouache on rice paper over wood panel / framed: 63 1/4 x 75 1/4 in. (160.7 x 191.1 cm)

Intended to be an instrument for meditation, the Avatamsaka Sutra illustrates the world as it appears to the Buddha at the moment of enlightenment, where all things are interconnected and interdependent within a cosmos of infinite realms. Just as the sutra implicates the interdependency of all things, each work by Wudl is interconnected and may be viewed as fragments that inform the collective whole. Every meticulous intricacy speaks to the wonderment and reverie demonstrated in the writings.

Tom Wudl / Flower Treasury Universe, 2016 / 22K gold powder, gum arabic, pencil, white gold leaf, gouache, polymer medium on Gampi paper / paper: 5 x 5 in. (12.7 x 12.7 cm) / framed: 12 1/2 x 10 1/2 in. (31.7 x 26.7 cm)

In 2018, Wudl began what will be his largest and most complex work made in response to the Avatamsaka Sutra. Its title, “Om Mani Padme Hum,” is an ancient Sanskrit mantra that represents the essence of all Buddhist teachings. For Wudl, this ongoing composition is an amalgamation of the subjects and motifs visualized in his work over the past two decades. Still in progress and without a definitive date for completion, Wudl has fully committed himself towards what could be considered the summation of this career to date.

Tom Wudl / Pure Adornments of the Essential Nature of the Cosmos of Reality, 2016 / 22K gold powder, gum arabic, white gold leaf, pencil, acrylic paint, PVA adhesive, vellum, Tengucho paper / paper: 12 x 14 1/2 in. (30.5 x 36.8 cm) / framed: 17 x 19 1/2 in. (43.2 x 49.5 cm)

Although inspired by Buddhist principles, the works themselves are not intended to be sacred icons. As a devotee of Buddhism, spirituality has remained at the core of his artistic output; and as a life-long student of Art and Art History, Wudl’s admiration for artists that have embraced the sacred in their work, has encouraged his own artistic pursuits. As a part of this exhibition, a selection of works by these formative “spiritually motivated” artists are presented in conversation with works by Wudl, from Wassily Kandinsky and Agnes Martin, to the Australian Aboriginal artist John Mawurndjul and a 19th century Tibetan Mandala painting. “It is my belief that art has a sacred function,” says Wudl. “The necessity for art is so elemental that it preceded the invention of writing. Art was invented to make the sacred visible by giving form to silent invisible processes that facilitate the unfolding of life.”

Tom Wudl / Wondrous Qualities of Natural Origination, 2016 / 22K gold powder, gum arabic, polymer medium, gouache, pencil on Tengucho paper / paper: 8 1/4 x 8 5/8 in. (21 x 21.9 cm) / framed: 13 1/2 x 12 1/2 in. (34.3 x 31.8 cm)

Tom Wudl immigrated to the United States from Cochabamba, Bolivia in 1958. Beginning life in a new country at age ten, Wudl already knew he wanted to become a painter. He earned a BFA from the Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, but gained most of his skills and insight through his independent study of late Medieval and early Renaissance paintings, and travels to the art centers of Europe. Wudl has balanced his painting with a long career teaching art. He has held positions at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena; UCLA; UC Irvine; UC Santa Barbara; Claremont College; and Otis College of Art and Design, in addition to an extensive private teaching practice. Wudl has exhibited widely in museums and galleries throughout the United States and abroad, including Documenta V, Kassel (1972); Sezon Museum of Art, Tokyo, and Nagoya City Museum in Japan; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Art; Pasadena Art Museum; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. L.A. Louver has represented Tom Wudl since 1980.



Steve Turner Gallery, Los Angeles

Until 28 March 2020

Making Bets In A Burning House, a solo exhibition by Hannah Epstein consisting of room installations in two separate galleries, one with a selection of handmade hooked rugs and the other with algorithmically printed digital works. In the first room, the textiles are installed in a room that looks like a video game dungeon. The floor is covered with a carpet that depicts bubbling lava and the walls are finished to resemble white bricks. The wall works include a range of imagery–a ten foot tall dragon; an animal face surrounded by mandala-inspired fists; pornographic videos looping inside rugs; a woman carrying the weight of Atlas on her shoulders; and a tornado with a small hand hidden inside. The miles of looped yarn convey that Epstein labored hard to create these works, and within her labor there is an ominous danger that threatens the viewer and maker.

The second room has a green carpet which resembles a grass lawn and all the wall works are all AI generated, made from an algorithm that analyzed Epstein’s works from the past eight years and predicted what she might create next. There also is a monitor playing surveilled content, filtered through an AI image recognition software, identifying people and objects from the first room. A single handmade work sits on the grass, a colorful soft worm, whose face goes from innocent to menacing when handled.

Hannah Epstein earned a BA from Memorial University of Newfoundland (2009) and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon (2017). Recent solo exhibitions include those at HUB Gallery, Pennsylvania State University (2019); Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto (2019) and Steve Turner, Los Angeles (2018 & 2019). Recent group exhibitions include those at Long Beach Museum of Art (2019); San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles (2019) and The Rooms, St. Johns, Newfoundland (2019). Epstein lives and works in Toronto.

What i saw: John Baldessari prints, 1976–2015

What i saw: John Baldessari prints, 1976–2015

Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles

from 8 February 2020 to April 14 2020

John Baldessari (b. 1931, National City, California) has been widely regarded as one of contemporary art’s most influential artists. To celebrate the artist’s life and to commemorate his passing on January 2, 2020, Cirrus presents an exhibition of Baldessari prints, spanning nearly forty years. The exhibition will inaugurate Cirrus’s fiftieth anniversary year, and celebrate its long collaboration with the Los Angeles-based conceptual artist. It opens February 8 and runs through April 14.

John Baldessari, Studio, 1988. Lithograph, silkscreen, ed. 150

What I Saw: John Baldessari Prints, 1976–2015 comprises thirty-two prints, that capture Baldessari’s signature use of montage to combine banal images in sometimes discordant visual juxtapositions, or with unexpected text. His self-consciously populist approach, in which he employed found photographs, film stills, or photography of everyday objects, uses allegory and disjointed narrative, in sometimes obfuscating ways, and invites the viewer to construct meaning.

The exhibition includes several important portfolios and individual works produced in collaboration with Cirrus. Raw Prints (1976) includes six works with tipped-in color photographs of everyday street scenes taken by the artist as a compositional device, which he used to mark out an area of color or linear shape in the print. The Fallen Easel (1988), an ambitious and unpredictable, multi- part composition of individually-framed and mounted images takes on a noir cast as the picture physically breaks apart, suggesting a rapid, chaotic cutting of film stills. Baldessari’s humor is also on display—The First $100,000 I Ever Made (2012), and two prints from Engravings with Sounds (2015), showcase his signature wit, while the major portfolio of ten prints, Hegel’s Cellar (1986), and his Cliché series (1995), explore his biting insight.

Internationally recognized and widely exhibited, Baldessari addressed the social and cultural impact of mass culture, and reinvented the terms of display and image-making throughout his career.

New Images of Man at Blum & Poe, LA

New Images of Man

Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

Until 14 March 2020

Curated by Alison M. Gingeras, this exhibition revisits and expands upon the Museum of Modern Art’s eponymous 1959 group exhibition curated by Peter Selz that brought together artists whose work grappled with the human condition as well as emerging modes of humanist representation in painting and sculpture in the wake of the traumatic fallout of the Second World War. 

New Images of Man, Installation view, Los Angeles, 2020, Photo: Makenzie Goodman

Some sixty years have passed since New Images of Man presented key figures of the European neo avant-garde such as Alberto Giacometti, Jean Dubuffet, César, Francis Bacon, and Karel Appel alongside the ascendant figures of the American art scene such as Willem de Kooning, H.C. Westermann, and Leon Golub. Set against the backdrop of existentialist philosophy and the socio-political anxieties of the postwar period, the esteemed humanist philosopher Paul Tillich wrote of these artists in the original MoMA catalogue, “Each period has its peculiar image of man. It appears in its poems and novels, music, philosophy, plays and dances; and it appears in its painting and sculpture. Whenever a new period is conceived in the womb of the preceding period, a new image of man pushes towards the surface and finally breaks through to find its artists and philosophers.”

New Images of Man, Installation view, Los Angeles, 2020, Photo: Makenzie Goodman

Part homage, part radical revision, this two-floor presentation reconstitutes emblematic figures from the original MoMA line up of artists while simultaneously expanding outwards to include those of the same generation and period who were overlooked in the midcentury. This reprisal features forty-three artists hailing not only from the US and Western Europe, but also Cuba, Egypt, Haiti, India, Iran, Japan, Poland, Senegal, and Sudan. The overwhelming maleness of the original New Images of Man has been amended by foregrounding previously excluded women artists from the same generation. Had gender politics of the 1950s been less misogynist, Selz might have considered artists such as Alina Szapocznikow, Niki de Saint Phalle, Yuki Katsura, Carol Rama, and Lee Lozano. With the benefit of inclusive hindsight, Gingeras strives to present a fuller range of this humanist struggle, thus more acutely enacting the original curator’s vision to gather a range of “effigies of the disquiet man.”  

New Images of Man, Installation view, Los Angeles, 2020, Photo: Makenzie Goodman

As the capstone to this historical proposition, the exhibition argues for the contemporary resonance of this midcentury disquiet by judiciously including a selection of contemporary artists. These living artists are also “imagists that take the human situation, indeed the human predicament” as their primary subject, while also reflecting the legacy of the aesthetic concerns from the original period. Spanning painting and sculpture, this contemporary component includes works by Paweł Althamer, Cecily Brown, Luis Flores, Michel Nedjar, Greer Lankton, Miriam Cahn, Sarah Lucas, Dana Schutz, El Hadji Sy, Ahmed Morsi, Henry Taylor, amongst others.  

New Images of Man, Installation view, Los Angeles, 2020, Photo: Makenzie Goodman

Installed alongside these paintings and sculptures, historic and contemporary, are interventions that evoke the larger-than-life figures from the original show—de Kooning, Dubuffet, Bacon, Giacometti, Westermann. Playful tributes to these masters appear throughout the exhibition, including two wall murals by Los Angeles artist Dave Muller. Embedded at the center of this revisionist enterprise is another historical MoMA exhibition also founded upon postwar humanism—this time through the lens of photography. The 1955 exhibition Family of Man curated by Edward Steichen—the legendary director of the Photography Department at MoMA—was conceived four years before Peter Selz’s New Images of Man, and was devised as a celebration of the camera as a powerful, immersive tool for the promulgation of images as well as the affirmation of the universal human experience. While it debuted in New York in 1955, Family of Man went on a veritable world tour. According to Steichen’s 1963 memoir A Life in Photography, between 1955 and 1962 about nine million viewers all around the world had the opportunity “to see themselves reflected” in the 503 photographs of people, making it the most popular photography exhibition ever.

New Images of Man, Installation view, Los Angeles, 2020, Photo: Makenzie Goodman

As the legacy of Steichen’s curatorial endeavors lives on in contemporary visual culture, this section of the exhibition sets out to challenge the Western-centric bias of the original show. This reassessment of Steichen’s conceit focuses upon two women artists from the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The Polish, self-taught photographer Zofia Rydet was active in the mid-1950s yet she was separated from Steichen not only by the Iron Curtain. This redux presentation of Rydet’s photographic oeuvre suggests a more complex vision of postwar era humanist photography. In fact, after seeing Steichen’s Family of Man show in Warsaw, Rydet embarked upon her series of documentary images of children in the literal rubble of the Second World War in the early 1960s entitled Mały człowiek (Little Man). This presentation features a selection of Rydet’s photographs from her documentary series called the “Sociological Record” in which she captured thousands of ordinary households in Poland from 1978 until her death in 1997. 

Rydet’s reworking of the Steichen paradigm finds a jarring echo in the contemporary oeuvre of Deana Lawson—an artist whose intimate, yet iconic imagery immortalizes African-American family life. Lawson grew up in Rochester, New York, the birthplace of Kodak—her involvement with photography is deeply bound up with her family’s history and their entwinement with the photographic industry. Unlike Rydet, Lawson’s images are often staged while they strive to capture the magic and textures of everyday struggles, emotions, and plain existence. Her gaze intrepidly focuses upon members of the African diaspora while also crafting stunning formal compositions that hark back to classical painting.  As Lawson has said of her work, “I have an image in mind that I have to make. It burns so deeply that I have to make it.” 

Shown side by side in a scenography that references Steichen’s original Family of Man presentation at MoMA, Rydet’s communist-era documentation of Polish families in their humble interiors resonates uncannily with Lawson’s present-day portraiture. Despite being decades apart, culturally disparate, and approaching their medium with radically differing methods, both Rydet and Lawson create images that offer a sharp rebuttal to Steichen’s sentimental and melodramatic original opus. Both photographers share a quality that Lawson has articulated when speaking of her own work, creating images that are “thick with space, layered with otherness and belonging at the same time.” Together Rydet and Lawson provide a revisionist twist to this new Family of Man. This section of the show was curated in collaboration with Antonina Gugała with a new installation by Deana Lawson made especially for the show. 

While much has changed in social and political terms since the 1950s, we are arguably again in a period of immense existential questioning and profound collective anxiety—artists now, as then, are on the frontlines of confronting what it means to be human, therefore making New Images of Man a subject still urgent for contemplation and provocation. This past summer, Selz died at the age of one hundred. In his New York Times obituary, his daughter Gabrielle remarked, “He would say that everything—a somber painting by Rothko or a Rodin sculpture—was about the human condition. My dad responded to emotion.” Arguably, emotion is the gravitational force that draws us to images of other people—from prehistoric cave paintings to press photographs of detained refugees and children on the Mexican-American border, humans find empathetic connection, solace, or simple recognition in the act of contemplating depictions of other humans. In the spirit of Selz’s original aim, this restaging of New Images of Man and reimagining ofFamily of Man resolves to recontextualize artists’ agency in addressing the fundamental questions of the human condition and to discourage apathy about our fellow humans’ plight. 

While an art exhibition can only operate on a symbolic and discursive level, the impetus behind the new New Images of Man is to continue our collective rumination on the human condition with renewed emotional and intellectual urgency. By expanding the geopolitical and generational scope of artists, an expansive vision of humanity starts to emerge—broadening “man” to a more intersectional vision of human existence.

HUMA BHABHA at David Kordansky Gallery / Los Angeles

HUMA BHABHA at David Kordansky Gallery / Los Angeles

UNTIL 14 MAR 2020

Born in Karachi, Pakistan and based in Poughkeepsie, New York, Huma Bhabha has become increasingly recognized for the figurative and material vocabularies she has developed for over three decades. The humanoid subjects of her work bear the traces of numerous processes and traditions, embodying an otherworldly synthesis of the beauty, passion, and conflict that define our world.

Huma Bhabha, Third Voice, 2019, cork, Styrofoam, acrylic, oil stick, wood, and Masonite 96 1/4 x 24 x 36 inches (244.5 x 61 x 91.4 cm)

Bhabha evokes archaic and contemporary sources alike, so that cycles of time, of life and its inevitable decay, are concretized as physical forms. In any given sculpture or drawing, the grotesque biomorphic distortions that characterize recent science fiction and horror movies exist alongside painterly passages of great sensitivity and tenderness. Proceeding by way of intuition and trial and error, she imbues her figures in two and three dimensions alike with palpable emotional charge. The sculptures in this exhibition exemplify the range of Bhabha’s experimentation and have been constructed from cork, foam, metal, wood, and paint, among other materials, some of them found. In Ground (2019), the body of astanding figure, positioned against the wall like the kind of architectural relief one might find in an ancient temple, has been fashioned fromcarved cork; a shredded tire provides the circle that defines its face, lending it a haunting openness, and transforming an instance of evident physical entropy into a focal point for psychological empathy.

The artist’s only other relief-based figure of this kind was a monumental example featured in 2018 in the 57th Carnegie International. This new work, therefore, represents an important addition to her repertoire of sculptural typologies. If Bhabha’s figures can be grouped according to the largely traditional poses they assume (seated, standing, and supine bodies predominate), they can also be categorized by how they engage discourses associated with modernism and minimalism. Her work is notable for its voracious and encyclopedic embrace of inspirations from throughout the histories of art, architecture, and design, as well as its willingness to take on formal puzzles from countless spheres of visual culture. The breadth of reference and use of found materials connect Bhabha’s practice to the legacy of artists like Robert Rauschenberg, for instance; the wrought nature of her characters, and the acknowledgement of war and violence as pervasive forces find precedents in the paintings of Francis Bacon and the sculptures of Alberto Giacometti.

Mask of Dimitrios (2019), a startling new seated figure, draws from many of these traditions. The figure’s body appears to emerge from a metal armature inspired by domestic chairs familiar to Bhabha from her upbringing in Karachi; plastic bags hover in the center of its torso like lungs; its limbs are covered with mottled clay; its ribs are made of rubber; and its spine is an undulating pipe that ends in a red rubber toy and resembles the vestigial appendage of a primate from another time or dimension. Such sculptures reveal how Bhabha constructs her objects, putting faith in her materials––in their innatebeauty and energy in addition totheir structural qualities and surface textures. Working directly at scale, she eschews modes of production that require maquettes and enlargement,favoring instead techniques that encourage tactility, and that elicitongoing contact between maker and object. Several other sculptures, including a group of imposing, kouroi-like standing figures, are filled with subtleties of color and painterly gesture that animate Bhabha’s forms and further accentuate their sculpted contours. With faces on all four sides of their heads, each possessing its own shifting mood (hilarity, ferocity, astonishment, joy), these works are replete with surfaces on which painted marks can be inscribed. Cork, with its natural tones and pitted texture, performs differently as a substrate than do the bright pink and light blue of Styrofoam, for instance, though marks describing the creatures’ musculature frequently move across materials, uniting them through the power of the artist’s line.

Bhabha also employs this compositional boldness and adventurous approach to surface in the drawings, frequently large in scale, that have been an integral part of her project for many years. She begins by taking photographs, often of deserted landscapes, and collaging them with pages from magazines, calendars, and exhibition invitations; these become the grounds on which she then draws images of her looming creatures using a variety of pigments and mediums. While the majority of the drawings have focused on the heads ofthese beings, Bhabha has increasingly begun to sketch their entire bodies. Standing against lurid, iridescent skies, they seem to step forward out of the worlds they inhabit and into the spaces occupied by their viewers. Other drawings appear to be filled with multiple figures, layered on top of one another: mask-like facades hover before shifting cubist planes that suggest unexpected dimensionality. As worked as the sculptures, they share their paradoxical mixture of vulnerability and strength, their utter strangeness andall-too-close familiarity.

King Dogs Never Grow Old

King Dogs Never Grow Old

Diane Rosenstein Gallery, Los Angeles

4 January – February 1, 2020

Diane Rosenstein Gallery announces King Dogs Never Grow Old, a group exhibition curated by Brooke Wise. The show will include paintings, sculpture, ceramics, works on paper, and tufted wall hangings by Ginny Casey, Sam Crow, Tom of Finland, Haley Josephs, Jillian Mayer, Haley Mellin, Robert Moreland, Rose Nestler, Scott Reeder, Matthew Sweesy, Chris Wolston and Bri Williams. The show’s title is borrowed from André Breton and Philippe Soupault’s surrealist text Les Champs Magnétiques (The Magnetic Fields). It alludes to exploring the nonsensical and the dreamlike unconscious. The work on view will share a common dialogue and aim to explore these surrealist notions in a contemporary manner.

Rose Nestler, “Gym Shorts,” 2019

Jillian Mayer and Haley Josephs use color and whimsy to address these surrealist concepts. Mayer’s interactive Slumpies invite the viewer to sprawl out and engage with their smart phones while laying on “deformed rock[s], repeatedly vandalized with paint.” Josephs employs bright and fantastical elements in her paintings, suggesting a world that may never be realized. Ginny Casey draws inspiration from classic Walt Disney cartoons and welcomes the spectator with distorted, absurd and disproportioned objects, which play with our restrictions of logic and time.

Rose Nestler, “Deep Pockets,” 2019

Exploring anatomical surrealism, Tom of Finland celebrates sexuality, fantasy, and the body in all areas of human endeavor. Scott Reeder and Matthew Sweesy both use comedy and rhetoric in their paintings. Reeder, known for his ceramic work and text- based paintings, represents everyday objects, reimagined as fine art. Paintings that exist as mundane and hand drawn lists allow the unconscious to express itself in a permanent state. Sweesy, who paints dreamlike sequences, uses humor to promote cultural critique, as seen in Hunter, where the artist himself is seen as both the hunter and the hunted.

Scott Reeder, “Band Names,” 2014

Chris Wolston’s Nalgona chairs are humanized by his addition of wicker body parts. Sam Crow’s tufted wall works skew our sense of reality and attempt to destroy our sense of stability in her usage of geometric shapes and dimension. Rose Nestler’s soft sculptures explore the body as the subconscious mind. Her unsettling and dreamlike sculptures are informed by the notion of shame, the classic childhood fears of showing up to class naked or menstruating through one’s pants. Bri Williams uses found objectsoften with personal associations, to evoke a potent, psychic mood. Through crafting and composition, Williams allows her objects to embody the the abstract: the incommunicability of pain and our inherited mythical figures.

Matt Sweesy, “Daphne In Repose,” 2019

Minimalist artist Robert Moreland reinvents his canvas into the space between painting and sculpture, while Haley Mellin’s small paintings reinvent mundane objects such as a Warholian banana floating in space. Through comedy, rhetoric, sarcasm and the uncanny, these works all share a common discourse about surrealism, the unexpected and the unconventional.

All images > Courtesy Diane Rosenstein Gallery, Los Angeles

Adam Silverman / Punctum

Adam Silverman / Punctum

Philip Martin Gallery , Los Angeles

9 November 2019 – 4 January 2020

Adam Silverman’s pots reveal the directness and energy with which they are made. A 25-pound block of clay is laid on a spinning potter’s wheel, then “pulled” upwards by Silverman in a gesture that has sustained and fascinated humans for thousands of years. Silverman’s gesture is one that has historically provided the means by which we store the items we need; at the same time, it is a gesture that through its simple beauty, and the elegance of its product, expresses who we are. 

Adam Silverman’s pots reflect the basic questions that continually draw us back to art-making. How are art objects made? Who makes them? Why? In Silverman’s work, we see the evidence of the maker. His hands mold and push the clay during and after the throwing process. His tools – which are evident in the lines, forms and surfaces of these works – are picks and knives, sticks, and even baseball bats. His finishes are formed through multiple firings – with the pot in a range of orientations. Their colors are affixed in the molten heat of the kiln; their richly textured surfaces mark the path of the fire in that kiln chamber. Across these pots we see accretions of ash, and if we consider further, we see traces of the origin points of Silverman’s glaze materials – the beach clay, corn husks, seaweed and the other materials that Silverman finds on the streets of Los Angeles, on the shoreline or in the woods in Rhode Island where he works in the summer.

In addition to asking basic questions about human expression, Silverman’s pots reflect on Modernist ideas over a century old, such as truth-to-materials. The foot of each pot in the exhibition, for example, is the remnants of the 25-pound-block of clay from which it was made. Silverman is constantly experimenting with clay composition, form, kiln temperature, and finish. They sag and warp in unpredictable ways.

As the title of the exhibition suggests, before this show, Silverman thinks sometimes about the writing of French theorist Roland Barthes. After the death of his mother, Roland Barthes famously reflected on the unique power that artworks have – in his case a photograph – and how they strike viewers. Barthes comments that artworks have an intensely subjective effect, like a pinprick, or in his language, they have punctum. This deep connection between who we are, what we make and how we look at things is key to both the enjoyment and the critique within Silverman’s work. As dean Nader Tehrani writes in his forward to Silverman’s recent solo exhibition at the Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York, it is “a refreshing advent to witness the punishment and brutality of a process that can yield aesthetic reappraisal while tipping it into critical discourse.” Or, as Rose Slivka wrote in “The New Ceramic Presence” – her ground-breaking 1961 essay on ceramics in America – “Not unified by blood or national origin (everyone is from some place else)… we’re a restless people.” Slivka then goes on to say that, “By giving the inherent nature of the [ceramic] material greater freedom to assert its possibilities – possibilities generated by the individual, personal quality of the artist’s specific handling – the artist underscores the multiplicity of life (the life of materials and his own), the events and changes that take place during his creative act.”

Silverman’s exhibition features a series of raised platforms designed by the artist. Formally educated in architecture and with a deep interest in modern dance, Silverman has studied Le Corbusier, Tadao Ando, and Merce Cunningham as much as Hans Coper and Peter Voulkos. In asking us to move our bodies through space, and by moving his works to our eye level, Silverman creates a direct relationship between us and his pots, hopefully enabling that sense of punctum for viewers – a moment of connection, reflection and critique.

Adam SILVERMAN (b. 1963, New York, NY) received his BFA and B.Arch from the Rhode Island School of Design. Silverman’s work is currently the subject of a solo exhibition at Philip Martin Gallery (Los Angeles, CA) and was recently the subject of solo exhibitions at Cooper Union (New York, NY) and Curator’s Cube (Tokyo, Japan). His work has been included in solo exhibitions at such museums and galleries as Friedman Benda (New York, NY); Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, TX); Laguna Art Museum (Laguna Beach, CA); Pierre Marie Giraud (Brussels, Belgium); and Tomio Koyama Gallery (Tokyo, Japan). Silverman’s two-person installation, Boolean Valley, a collaboration with Nader Tehrani, travelled from San Jose Museum of Art (San Jose, CA) to the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA), followed by the Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas, TX). In 2013, a major monograph on his work, Adam Silverman Ceramics was published by Rizzoli. Silverman’s work is in the collections of such museums as Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA); Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas, TX); Palm Springs Museum of Art (Palm Springs, CA); Israel Museum (Jerusalem, Israel); Rhode Island School of Design Museum (Providence, RI); and Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, CT). His work has been discussed in such publications as Artforum,WallpaperArchitectural DigestThe New York Times,and Los Angeles Times. Silverman lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

All images > Installation view Adam Silverman punctum, courtesy Philip Martin Gallery , Los Angeles




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