Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cakes n Cookies

The things that can get in the way. Jury duty, for instance.
And cats. Cat sleep-overs, I've learned, aren't about sleeping. This cat will talk all night long. That gets in the way. Of sleep for sure.

Well I have things to say too. About art seen in LA.

There was, to begin with, Make It Rain, a full-wall projection of a 5 minute, 32 second video by Julius Friedman at Patrick Painter.

Footage of art-house auctioneer Simone du Pury in action taking bids and wielding the gavel is edited and matched to an audio mix that is alternately soaring symphony and chunky beat. The end result is an homage to the shamanic conjuring of monetary energy that is the big ticket art auction experience.

Dipping and bowing, du Pury makes it happen, makes it rain—and the automated tally board displays the quickly transforming numbers, dollars, yen, pounds, and euro—five figures, six figures, and the crowd cheers! Rainmaker, indeed. It's a "small" work (even if it is projected hugely)—a wry testament to the heady, magical, out-of-the-ordinary nature of the art world.
Also wry and upending is Friedman's resume.

What more is there to say? Is anything else necessary?

Give that man a cookie.

A couple of doors down, at Richard Heller, there was meat. Doesn't get any more elemental than this. Victoria Reynolds paints portraits of flesh.

I remember seeing one of her works, much like the one above, close-in view framed in ornate frame, some time ago here in San Francisco. I was awe struck by the deft rendering and the Victorian woodwork which mimicked the marbling of flesh and fat.

In this exhibit, she shows a series inspired by carvings of slaughtered reindeer she witnessed in a traditional harvest in Norway. The flesh is painted hung against a black background and framed in black. The black offsets the carnation and gives the work gravitas in the same way that the light/dark contrast worked for the Dutch Masters. This is Reindeer Vision, 44 x 32 inches.

The paintings are stark, no frills (save the frames), somber and respectful of the flesh (even if the titles are witty). This one, called Uteral Bonnet (26 inches square) is especially interesting as the piece of flesh, the form itself is something amazing.

It seems to me, though, it could get redundant, portraits of meat, an exercise again and again of the same thing, slight variations. She could venture sometimes off the mark, it seems to me, outside the tight parameters she's set herself. Otherwise it is: Victoria Reynolds, the meat painter.

I was thinking this and then I came across Cindy Wright. She paints, on occasion, meat too, to a different effect.

Bacon Cube 3, with bright light at 78 x 76 inches is certainly cinematic.

Meat 3, 67 x 47 inches, is right in there, so close you can smell it, and it is also about the paint. Wow!

My favorite, not flesh, but fish—Fishbone—is fantastic, dramatic, clean sweep. I used to paint carcasses so I am partial I suppose, but still this is a truly arresting painting getting to the guts of the matter with verve.

I discovered Cindy Wright at Mark Moore Gallery where another, very different, terrific painter, Alli Smith, was showing five new big canvases. Talk about the paint! They knocked me out!

Look at all that's going on here. I chose this example, Siren Crown, because it shows in the pic the different uses of paint—flat panel, painterly, globular—collisions and compressions—it's so dynamic! And her colors, the precision, punch. This is such confident exuberant work.

This is Never Enough, 64 x 68 inches, and absolutely, I could never get enough. Alli Smith takes the cake!

Across town, at Christopher Grimes, there was another painter showing. Joshua Podoll also paints large canvases of varying application. I know it isn't fair to compare ... but I have already done that in this post, so what the hay...

Air-brush meets brush work and strange perspectives and juxtapositions happen, but overall the effect is flat and I was left feeling dull. Having just experienced Alli Smith's paintings, I was quite aware of the contrast.



Enough said.