Skip to content

Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2015

January 30, 2015
ArtLA-Contemp13

Painting can and should have an air of magic to it. There’s an element of alchemy at work when pigment, brush and gesture are applied to a ground. The result, whether representational or abstract, always has the potential to transform into a retinal epiphany. I am unapologetically an optimist when it comes to art and its potential to persuade. Now going to an Art Fair is entirely another matter. My expectations and mood often run somewhere between dread and despair. So why, you may ask, do I go to these social gatherings of rampant financial ambition and social posturing? The answer is simply that I have never walked away from an art fair without finding something of merit. And on some excellent occasions, I get introduced to something fresh, a new voice perhaps singing an old song or an entirely new song altogether.

This year’s incarnation of Art Los Angeles Contemporary proved to be an amiable affair. If the buzzword of the moment is disruptive, there was no evidence of any seismic aesthetic activity. As usual, there was no end of gee whiz technical experimentation all of which impressed those who consider This Is Colossal to be a Fine Art Website (just to be transparent, I do not.) There were several deceptively sexy (well made pieces not actually sexual) works on display each of which had the resonant half-life of a cicada. I puckishly imagined changing several gallery names to Buyer’s Remorse. Yet once again, even with my curmudgeon on full display I spied several works of art that were undeniably GOOD. Here then my Truffles for 2015:

Alain Biltereyst Untitled, 2014 Acrylic on Panels At Jack Hanley, New York

Alain Biltereyst
Untitled, 2014
Acrylic on Panels
At Jack Hanley, New York

I immediately remembered the abstract panel paintings by Alain Biltereyst at Jack Hanley Gallery from previous years. Intimate in scale but monumental in intellect, these acrylic paintings have a modernist gravitas. They might echo Albers and Kelly but they are authentic in every sense of the word. Having seen them several times at this fair in years past cements my fondness and admiration.

Sol Lewitt Lines of Random Length from the top of the Paper, 1972 4” x 7” At Alden Projects

Sol Lewitt
Lines of Random Length from the top of the Paper, 1972
4” x 7”
At Alden Projects

While most of the assembled work on display was created in the past five years, an art historical treat was offered at Alden Projects. Small and almost ephemeral, a Sol Lewitt drawing from 1971 reminded me of the groundbreaking shoulders upon which all these other artists stood. If art can indeed be anything, then some of the credit (or blame, if you wish) must be laid at the feet of Lewitt.

Left: Kirsten Everberg, Afternoon Room (Barragan), 2015, Oil and Enamel on Canvas on Wood Panel, 72” x 60” Right:Paul Winstanley, Seminar (Grey), 2014, Oil on linen, 61” x 63” Both At 1301PE, Los Angeles

Left: Kirsten Everberg, Afternoon Room (Barragan), 2015, Oil and Enamel on Canvas on Wood Panel, 72” x 60”
Right:Paul Winstanley, Seminar (Grey), 2014, Oil on linen, 61” x 63”
Both At 1301PE, Los Angeles

1301PE Gallery in Los Angeles continues to have a challenging and intelligent roster of artists. Paul Winstanley and Kristen Everberg continue to hone both their iconography and sizable painting skills. Each is represented with one large example of their work at the 1301PE booth. The Winstanley is narrative, contemplative and inviting while the Everberg verges on abstraction. Two excellent examples by two extremely talented artists.

At Acme Gallery, Los Angeles Kristin Baker Dog-Eared, 2014 Acrylic on PVC 20” x 24”

At Acme Gallery, Los Angeles
Kristin Baker
Dog-Eared, 2014
Acrylic on PVC
20” x 24”

Represented by a single medium scaled painting called Dog-Eared. Kirstin Baker was a new discovery for me. The Painting, executed in numerous layers of acrylic paint both opaque and translucent, has the tactility of the book it conjures. The colors are boldly juxtaposed into a retinal frenzy. The tight edge-to-edge composition swings with a jazzy authority. I look forward to seeing more in the future. At Acme, Los Angeles.

Shirley Irons Greene Naftali, 20011 Oil on Canvas At Gallery Lusiotti, Santa Monica

Shirley Irons
Greene Naftali, 20011
Oil on Canvas
At Gallery Lusiotti, Santa Monica

Shirley Irons was also a new discovery. Her empty room painting is far from a portrait of a void. Rather it is flooded with light and potential. That potential is layered by the fact that this painting, one from a series, is sly depictions of galleries. Desire and projection enter the narrative landscape while her brushstrokes are at the service of evocative architectural depiction. At Gallery Luisotti, Santa Monica.

Eric Yahnker At The Hole, NYC

Eric Yahnker
At The Hole, NYC

And in the arresting image category, the winner is Eric Yahnker with an uncanny charcoal portrait of Hillary Clinton exhaling a spliff. I must admit, it took me a second to recognize the ex Secretary of State, ex Senator and ex First Lady, but once the synapses fired it was indelible. It’s a great rendering and Yahnker has the technical skill set of Robert Longo in his prime with the added punch of the invented narrative. Yahnker is also a polymath since the Hillary portrait is surround by another installation of his, this time 300 baseballs with forged signatures of distinctly non-baseball celebrities. The names I saw included, Eddie Money, Truman Capote, Annie Liebowitz and T.S. Eliot. I can’t venture a guess as to the meaning however both works charmed the Dickens out of me. I think they will you too. From The Hole, New York

Enrico Bach At Weingrüll, Karlsruhe, Germany

Enrico Bach
At Weingrüll, Karlsruhe, Germany

A final mention must be bestowed on the elegant paintings of Enrico Bach at Weingrüll, Karlsruhe, Germany. Cool abstractions are generally not my cup of tea but Bach won me over with his effective and playful use of compositional shifts. Colors push forward and recede. Planes fold and pivot. And while the larger versions are acrobatic, it was the smaller version that moved me more, both literally and figuratively. I think they would even look better in a gallery or cool home setting, away from the cacophony of the art fair aisles.

Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2015 runs through Sunday February 1st at the Barker Hanger Santa Monica

-Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, January 30, 2015

From → Art Fairs, Fine Art

7 Comments
  1. Mario, what an excellent overview of the fair. Your insights are by far the most “schwarz brot” there is out there!!!!

    • I think you coined the new catch phrase for TruffleHunting. The Schwarz Brot of art writing! Many thanks for your enthusiastic eye touring the show.-M

  2. shoe shoe permalink

    MMM,Well done, an art form of its own this edition of Truffle Hunting is… See you soon if I can ever get the hell out of here-snow threatening to slow my departure on MondayKathie  ____________ KATHIE FLORSHEIM Independent Professional Photographer Providence, RI 401 / 751-7991 http://www.kathieflorsheimphotography.com

  3. You picked some real beauties! Excellent commentary, too.

  4. Karen Waddell permalink

    Your blend of erudition and giddiness at what you see charms the Dickens out of me. Thank you, Super Mario.

  5. Ruth greene permalink

    Really enjoyed your art fair post.
    Thank you for those jewels.
    Ruth

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: