From Chinatown to Culver City
3 galleries in Los Angeles

Issue no2
April - May 2019
Magisch Realisme

Report on LA galleries: reviews on Jonas Lipps at Thomas Solomon Gallery, John Divola at LAXART and Banks Violette at Blum & Poe.

After spending over a month in this city, I've come to a perhaps dangerous conclusion that Los Angeles is a city of painters. Gradually, galleries leave the more experimental and less grand east side of the city to join the many galleries on the west side of town, closer to collectors and their wallets. Consequently, the city has a sensible but sometimes somewhat monotonous commercial outtake on the gallery game, leading to works and artists that show many similarities. However, great pieces are still very easy to find. Here are just a few of many, from Chinatown to Culver City.

Jonas Lipps Thomas Solomon Gallery

In his first solo exhibition in the US, Jonas Lipps (b. 1979) shows a range of drawings on paper varying from landscape to still life. On standard thin A4 size paper, the drawings are built up out of watercolours and found imagery that Lipps uses to either draw around or as templates for new shapes. Although the pages range in origin (leaflets, book pages, grid paper torn from exercise books, sometimes stained or ripped) the thinness of the paper creates a subsequent loss of control as it resists against the watercolouring. As the material overrules the artist's hand (by his own choice) this leads to works that show something to be imagined rather than actually representing it. However, the amount of detail in each image is quite baffling.

Without any obvious consistency in their style, each image displays a peak inside a fantastical narrative of still lifes, portraits, landscapes and sometimes disturbing scenes. Some works are filled with paint and lines with no inch of bare paper left, while others are more suggestive, constructed of pencil lines with an occasional hint of colour. The pictures raise questions, not knowing what is told. Still, the viewer lands in a situation that avoids the anecdotal. Much of what’s needed to fill in the blanks seems to be happening outside of the frame, in the in-betweennes of the pages.

Jonas Lipps, Works on Paper
Thomas Solomon Gallery
January 14 - March 3
www.thomassolomongallery.com

John Divola, Vandalism Series LAXArt

On the occasion of Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945-1980 [1], LAXArt displays a selection of works from John Divola's (b. 1949) Vandalism Series that he made from 1973 till the end of that decade. Shown here are images taken between 1973-1975. From the entire series, sixty-seven small-scale black and white photographs were chosen displaying Divola’s engagement with the act of exploring abandoned houses, manipulated through various unrequested painterly acts. Spray painted silver dots, marks, lines and shapes, decorate the heavily damaged interiors of abandoned Los Angeles homes he would break into and then photograph by using an electronic flash. As a serial and collective documentation the photographs function as a description of place, with Divola's silver interventions as its narrative. Although the title of the work claims the artist's silver lines are acts of vandalism, in his images they portray to be more like a gesture of kindness and engagement, contributing to the understanding of the space rather than reducing their abandoned eeriness by human intervention. The movements are strictly and only in service to enhancing these rooms and corridors, not to the artist himself.

John Divola, Vandalism Series 1973-1975
LAXArt
December 10 - January 25
laxart.org

Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945-1980 is a collaboration of over 60 cultural institutions across Southern California coming together to celebrate the birth of the LA art scene. Pacific Standard Time runs from October 2011-April 2012.

Banks Violette Blum & Poe

Walking through my first show of Banks Violette (b. 1973), it seemed to be a celebration of American, or more precisely, Los Angeles pop culture. That comparison is perhaps too easily made, as this gallery in LA - a city that relies so heavily on its car culture - shows installation pieces such as black painted, shiny heavily dented car rails and a large scale NASCAR 88. Violette's recent interest in NASCAR and its iconography deploys a fitting aesthetic in this town, although perhaps only seemingly so to a non-local.

When entering the show, this feeling is only more emphasized when the visitor is greeted under a sea of lights as if walking inside an old-fashioned movie theatre (Not Yet Titled, 2009). The light piece leads to the bigger exhibition room in which a black, slick, deadpan object ostensibly simulates a grisly event.

The mood was not victorious but sombre with its dark objects in powder coated steal, shiny aluminium and drawings of a disintegrated American flag in graphite on paper (L.S.M.F.T.W./handmadehardtimeshandedback, 2011). The protagonist was almost tangibly missing, which left the show with a trace of loss and emptiness, serving as a doctrine that conditions in society are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake.

Banks Violette
Blum & Poe
January 7 - February 11
www.blumandpoe.com

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Magazine
Metropolis M Magazine for contemporary art No 2 — 2019