Alexander Keefe

  • Diana Thater

    “I’m always working with multiple, simultaneous perspectives,” Los Angeles–based artist Diana Thater explained to Lynne Cooke in an interview published on the occasion of her 2015 retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This statement makes sense, given the complexity of Thater’s subject matter: the networked entanglements between human and other, species and habitat, viewer and viewing space, zebra and zeal (the last a term of venery for a group of zebras). “A Runaway World” adds to the artist’s bestiary of transitory media architectures. The show presents two cruciform structures.

  • Bob Branaman

    The Beat poet and playwright Michael McClure once remarked that to be an artist in the 1950s “was to be an outlaw. . . . They were ready to put you in jail.” Just ask LA-based artist, filmmaker, and poet Bob Branaman, who was first introduced to art while serving a stint in juvie way back in Kansas. Judging from this packed, polyphonic, decades-spanning exhibition of paintings, assemblages, handmade books, and ephemera, clearly something must have clicked there. A night or two in the Wichita clink was a rite of passage for an Eisenhower-era head full of jazz, bennies, and reefers. So was bailing

  • Yunhee Min

    One’s initial impression of Yunhee Min’s new work, an intervention of poured paint and fluorescent light onto two long, normally transparent vitrines installed in the lobby of the Equitable Life Building—an iconic if somewhat long-in-the-tooth skyscraper in Koreatown—depended a great deal on how (or when) one first came across it. If the lights happened to be switched off (as they were at regularly timed intervals), Luminaire Delirium (Equitable Life or soft machine), 2015, displayed a milky, matte opacity, obstructing or deflecting one’s view of the vitrines’ interiors with turbulent,

  • Frank Bowling

    “Cooking,” he calls it, but there are other words that come to mind when describing Frank Bowling’s restless, wildly inventive painting practice: spilling, smearing, dripping, brushing, raking, flicking, sticking, foaming, cutting, stitching, and pasting, to name a few. And waiting. Bowling often works on the floor, flooding canvases with vivid washes of acrylic and oil, letting the paints pool, settle, and dry before staining them again. He applies thick, gestural curls of impasto that sometimes take weeks to harden into crunchy corrugated surfaces. He embeds tiny objects and pigment into thick

  • picks December 11, 2014

    Frances Scholz

    “Amboy,” Cologne-based Conceptualist Frances Scholz’s first major solo exhibition in Los Angeles consists of little more than a press release, two five-minute videos—ostensibly, the trailers for a documentary film about an artist named Amboy—and a set of five relatively small photographs of Amboy, California, an unincorporated town located in the Mojave Desert. Working with these modest fragments Scholz stages a provocative critique of contemporary art stardom as transacted in the sunlit glare of LA, the epicenter of our most potent mythologies, tall tales and shared hallucinations. In one of

  • picks November 13, 2014

    Andy Warhol

    Andy Warhol remained cryptic about the two abstract forms—the “peak” and the “cap”—that recur throughout his Shadows, 1978–79, a sprawling installation of 102 large handpainted and silk-screened canvases, seen here in its entirety for the first time on the West coast. Their possible sources run a delightfully Warholian gamut, ranging from cardboard maquettes to the Empire State Building to erect penises. Warhol attributed the title to a photo of a shadow in his office, which he said the shapes were based on: “It’s a silkscreen that I mop over with paint,” he wrote.

    The objects behind the eponymous

  • picks October 06, 2014

    Stan VanDerBeek

    Even now, the electronic mandalas and digital cross-stitch of Stan VanDerBeek’s “Poemfields,” 1966–71, projected onto the gallery’s felicitously high walls, flow with hypnotic, immersive energy. It’s difficult to imagine what early audiences, unaccustomed to computer graphics, must have made of them or, as VanDerBeek would have put it, how they experienced them. Digital patterns pulsate and scroll as words appear singly and in pairs; gnomic phrases materialize from the high-key geometric flux, then dissolve back into it, blurring distinctions between background and foreground, text and image.

  • picks September 16, 2014

    Lisa Anne Auerbach

    Dubbed the “Empress of Modest Propaganda” in the 2014 Whitney Biennial catalog, Lisa Anne Auerbach has been at the center of an alt-publishing mini-empire since 2004, when she first added a knitting machine to her existing practice as photographer and printer, and began pursuing the politics of consciousness via rabble-rousing sweaters, placards, printed matter, and zines. All of the above are represented in this jam-packed survey, “Spells," the irrepressible results of a free-running experiment in non-mass media and communication.

    Everywhere, there is text: tapestry-size banners catalog real

  • picks February 13, 2014

    Peter Fischli and David Weiss

    It seems surprising that this is Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s first major solo exhibition in Los Angeles since 1987, given how central the city was to the Swiss artists’ early collaborative work. Weiss moved to the city in 1979 and Fischli soon followed: Together they spent much of the next three years there, featuring L.A. in their first film, The Point of Least Resistance, 1981. The city also played home to the artists’ earliest experiments with an unusual sculptural medium. Taking a cue from its then-widespread use by Hollywood set designers, in 1982 Fischli and Weiss began carving and

  • picks December 04, 2013

    Sam Falls

    Sam Falls has spoken previously of the need to expand the photograph’s capacity for representation by “absolving” it of its indexical death grip on a single moment. While this idea drives much of Falls’s prolific studio-based practice, it takes on a life of its own outside the studio, in the form of a patient art that takes things outdoors and leaves them there for a while. When Falls combines these ways of working, as in his latest solo exhibition, the results can be surprising.

    On display is a set of eight plain metal and wooden wind chimes. For some eight months prior to the exhibition, the

  • picks July 29, 2010

    Corin Hewitt

    Vermont native Corin Hewitt has described his latest backwoods memory trip of an installation as a “prequel” to his 2008 solo exhibition “Seed Stage” at the Whitney Museum. The latter was a decidedly indoor affair, reconfiguring the museum’s lobby-level gallery with a white-cube structure whose pristine exterior afforded visitors narrow-windowed glimpses into a messy ongoing experiment that was part hydroponic, part culinary, and part multimedia performance. The same preoccupation with the studio as the site for cycles of consumption, representation, and display is at work in the new show, but

  • picks March 08, 2010

    Wafaa Bilal

    Chicago-based artist Wafaa Bilal’s recent work turns the topicality of its subject matter––the horrors of war in the artist’s native Iraq, which he fled as a dissident in the run-up to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait––into a set of chilling meditations on photography and representation, outrage and loss, and the long-distance violence of technologically mediated warfare in the digital age. The ambiguous evidentiary character of the war-zone photograph––and of the stories it tells––plays an organizing role in this overtly political body of work. Chair, 2009, is a large-format image of an

  • picks February 06, 2009

    “PREDRIVE: After Technology”

    This group exhibition of new-media art covers a wide terrain, ranging from rec-room psychedelia to neo-Op-art electronics. The eye-popping vitality of the former is evident in Jacob and Jessica Ciocci’s mixed-media installation The Dark Side of Light, 2008. Core members of Paper Rad, their approach is visually intense and eclectic, using rough juxtapositions of high and low technology in flashing tie-dye colors, furry stuffed animals, VHS-era video hacks, stoner jokes, and crudely pixelated pattern making. Compared with this dizzying heterogeneity, Gretchen Skogerson’s Switch, 2008, works with

  • picks February 05, 2009

    Richard Bartholomew

    The New Delhi that a teenage Burmese refugee named Richard Bartholomew arrived at in the 1940s was a city in flux: its population transformed by the traumatic British partitioning of India and Pakistan, its viceregal palace and colonial courtrooms turned over to men who had spent decades in prison for resisting the authority they embodied, its construction sites emblematic of a young nation in the throes of an aggressive program of modernization. Bartholomew, who died in 1985, spent the rest of his life in the city––he met and married a young refugee displaced by partition, raised a family, and

  • picks December 13, 2008

    “Mutant Beauty”

    Exhibition curator Gayatri Sinha is well known in India for organizing conceptually driven group shows, and her latest effort is no exception. With a diverse group of artists, she sets her sights on the question of beauty’s manipulation and the exercise of power implicit therein. Bharti Kher needs little prodding to explore the dark side of loveliness. Her And All the While the Benevolent Slept (all works 2008) makes oblique reference to Tantric iconography with an ash-black decapitated female nude that squats on a phallic rod over a rough-cut stump of wood. Abir Karmakar answers the challenge

  • picks December 13, 2008

    Hema Upadhyay

    The two-dimensional works by the Mumbai-based artist Hema Upadhyay typically rely on a small set of pictorial elements: miniature photographed self-portraits collaged into painted environments that veer toward the surreal. In her 2008 series “Yours Sincerely,” she takes this technique in a new direction, cutting and pasting herself into elegant and tainted backdrops that recall ornamental traditions from South Asia and beyond. The references are hardly nostalgic: The decorative settings are skewed by distorting, sometimes subtle inclusions. In one work, deep-pink and poster-paint-blue floral

  • picks September 19, 2008

    “Still Moving Image”

    Anupam Poddar’s Devi Art Foundation—India’s first private contemporary art museum—is a sign of the times: emblematic of both the influx of private money into the country’s contemporary art scene and, conversely, the near absence of publicly funded support for the same. DAF stands at a threshold, somewhere between private collection and public space, gallery and museum. Appropriately (and annoyingly) located in the peri-urban corporate sprawl of Gurgaon, an hour’s drive from central Delhi’s colonial-period government buildings and bungalows, the museum is intended to serve as a platform for