Andrew Berardini

  • picks April 13, 2016

    Elaine Cameron-Weir

    An alchemist has abandoned her laboratory. A long adobe wall serving as a threshold wears licks of neon like lightning contained, along with angled metal arms holding liquid candles and rearview mirrors, large pearly clamshells, and gleaming silver. Concocted from terrazzo tabletops shaped like butterfly wings and the spotless chrome of lab equipment, the stations beyond the wall, including Sentry Tactical Like Prey with Evolutionary Eyes of a Predator on the Wing 2 (all works 2016), hold flickering flames of cooking frankincense—filling the vast rooms with a churchy and ancient aroma. Within

  • picks March 21, 2016

    Nathaniel Mellors

    It’s like watching television, but even more fucked up. There are many ways, of course, to fuck up a television show, but artist and musician Nathaniel Mellors, for his debut solo exhibition here, gives us the shape and cues of a British sitcom as warped by the absurdist tragicomedy of Samuel Beckett and the squelching oeuvre of Paul McCarthy. Mellors’s video series “Ourhouse,” 2010–16, for instance, features a chubby man known as The Object eating and excreting books whose contents corrupt the lives of a nuclear family with walk-on troglodytes and casual cannibalism.

    Spend an hour in this world

  • Julie Weitz

    Beyond a glass front door, metal chains dangled breezily over a carpet of pink eggshell foam, which sprang back buoyantly from each footstep, absorbing its sound. Velvety black walls led beyond a wall of mirrors into the soft, gently throbbing darkness of the gallery’s main room. A deep, almost sepulchral pulse seeped in from adjoining rooms, resonating with spooky syncopation, accompanied here and there by the jingle of spectral bells, a phantom trumpet. Six projections and three works on flatscreens, angled in odd directions through the space’s irregular rooms, were doubled in the mirrors’

  • diary February 26, 2016

    Dear John

    ACROSS THE STREET from sunset tourists posing for snaps in front of Chris Burden’s Urban Light, jumping distance from chopped-up sections of the Berlin Wall, the first-floor windows of an International Style two-story building read over and over again, I WILL NOT MAKE ANY MORE BORING ART.

    An exercise cooked up in 1971 for a class at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, the words adorn these windows but also currently a hallway downtown at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and are available on pencils as merch across the street at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a marketing tie-in for a

  • Robert Barry

    Passing through Rudolph Schindler’s Bethlehem Baptist Church, one witnessed fifty-one glimmering words, which whispered from the walls of this nearly forgotten architectural monument. One of only a few modernist masterpieces still intact in South Central Los Angeles, and one of even fewer located in this once-segregated neighborhood (the result of restrictive housing covenants), the church was built in 1944 to serve an African American congregation. It would later be sold and then abandoned before undergoing a partial renovation by Reverend Melvin Ashley in 2013. After briefly serving his

  • picks January 25, 2016

    William Leavitt

    A sci-fi laboratory and a suburban patio weirdly mingle in William Leavitt’s installation The small laboratory (all works 2015). Both a sculpture and a set for an as yet unpublished play, the work includes a bit of repurposed rattan crowning a mysterious black obelisk, while nearby, a long, clear cylinder bubbles milky liquid, and terra-cotta-potted tropical houseplants brush against copper-spray-painted found objects naked with wires. In the background, plastic tubes are topped with the kind of painted spheroid most commonly found in grade-schoolers’ models of the solar system. The installation

  • Bill Jenkins and Chadwick Rantanen

    An observatory for barely unpacked product and its packaging, this complex, interweaving installation of Chadwick Rantanen’s machines and Bill Jenkins’s illuminations begged for extended description; the exhibition’s subtle mechanical weirdness and play of light created a viewing situation that demanded methodical observation. Like much Conceptual assemblage, the show tugged at language while skirting easy characterization. Attempts to translate the installation into words create labored, angular poetry.

    Hanging above a table sloping inward and split down its middle, a contraption made of black

  • “Tala Madani: First Light”

    Cock-dragging baby-men leer with amusing hubris and dazed melancholy in the paintings and stop-motion animations of Tala Madani. In this exhibition of works from the past two years, the Tehran-born, Los Angeles–based artist’s cast of rotund fellows prance and lactate in a sinister, metaphysical darkness cut sparely with light. A grim, corporeal humor bubbles through while Madani’s (mostly) bald subjects suffer odd torments; in one oil painting, The X, 2015, a figure clad in a black thong grins submissively as disembodied hands stretch his limbs

  • diary November 16, 2015

    Simone Says

    FRIDAY NIGHT I spent at Cafe Figaro—a Parisian-inspired street cafe in Los Feliz—commiserating with somber French citizens speaking in hushed voices over the clink of glasses. Their grief was still on my mind as I headed the following night to the Box for a rare performance by veteran choreographer and artist Simone Forti. The eighty-year-old legend performed a dance of simple movements, shivering a flashlight in her hand as she swirled and crawled across the concrete floors of the gallery. Behind her played the quiet susurrus of the river in a projected video. Forti’s finger caressed the ground,

  • “Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination”

    Cackling temple monkeys and frolicsome dolphins, star-crossed dung beetles and dancing honeybees. For more than two decades, Los Angeles–based artist Diana Thater has produced immersive installations that combine scientific inquiry and perceptual magic to ponder the ways in which animals animate and interact with their environments. Accompanied by a catalogue, this full-scale retrospective—which begins with the artist’s breakthrough 1992 video installation Oo Fifi, Five Days in Claude Monet’s Garden, Part 1 and Part 2—will be the most

  • picks August 11, 2015

    “New Babylon”

    The two-by-four skeleton of a curious structure designed by architect Joakim Dahlqvist stands almost naked in the center of a modern white-walled and concrete-floored gallery. This half-built house has been painted in a bright hue that evokes the color of a blueprint and is cutely called “Safe Harbor” by its manufacturer, and work by twelve artists have been hung outside and inside its walls.

    Organized by artist Michael Dopp, “New Babylon” follows his previous collaborative projects: the defunct club No Vex, the somewhat nomadic bar, Dopp’s, and the most recently opened shed gallery Arturo Bandini

  • diary July 20, 2015

    Rain Dance

    A RUMBLE SHUDDERED across the sky and lightning set fire to palm trees as the hot wet spatter of a tropical storm washed over a startled Los Angeles this past weekend. It hardly seemed to discourage the hordes that capered across the city for a deluge of openings and performances. Dave Muller began the weekend early on Tuesday with the inauguration of a year’s worth of his legendary Three Day Weekends at Blum & Poe. Muller manned the turntables, spinning records so strange it felt like he invented them. “This one’s psychedelic reggae,” he said. Inside, posters from Muller’s collection angled in

  • diary June 05, 2015

    Different Strokes

    “LAST YEAR on this podium, we were just dating. What do you call it? A one-night stand,” said Philippe Vergne. The director of Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art was presiding over his second official gala, held outside the museum’s Geffen Contemporary site on Saturday night. This year, the museum decided to honor an artist, the octogenarian conceptualist and MoCA board member John Baldessari, letting his work inform rather than rule the decor, a subtle shift from recent years when the museum would invite artists versed at creating spectacles to turn the gala into a quasi artwork.


  • picks April 27, 2015

    Ginger Wolfe-Suarez

    And there they are, a bouquet and a sunset, again and again. In this spare installation, the materials couldn’t really be more basic. A series of landscapes depicting the same cloud-banked sunset, what seems to be another, of flowers, then light, rocks, yarn, mirrors, walls—subtle teases of scent. Yarn stretches across the corners of rooms from ceiling to floor, each colored thread a uniform few centimeters from the next, arrayed in rays of pure color over the spare, white walls, in what the artist likens to Color Fields. The yarn is soaked in essential oils, whose scent hits you like a wall,

  • picks March 20, 2015

    Juliette Blightman

    Beneath the long fronds of a potted houseplant, a sizeable black speaker rumbles like a distant party. The noise haunts or taunts, beckons or repulses, depending perhaps on whether you’re invited. From Juliette Blightman, an artist best known for her short films and installations, this suite of gouaches, graphite works, oils, and acrylics picture tangled naked men at a 5 AM party, women with their backs turned, often looking at art (sometimes noted as from the “Hair and Arse” series, 2014), women frolicking by the seaside, and clusters of friends. Interiors and trains, grand museums, fireworks

  • Michel Auder/Józef Robakowski

    I can see you. Perched near a window, looking down on the heat and honk of the sun-bright street or out to the night windows beaming like magic lanterns, you are easily observed. Looking out from their windows, Michel Auder and Józef Robakowski, who record private lives unwittingly played out in public, can see you, too. Close in age but shaped by dramatically different social and political contexts, these artists, perfectly paired by Fahrenheit director Martha Kirszenbaum, keenly observe others with a speculative, subjective eye. Under another’s lingering gaze, your most mundane acts acquire

  • picks February 23, 2015

    Charles Gaines

    In his early work, Charles Gaines pursued a cool hunt for the unknown at the far end of the hyperrational. Sol LeWitt claimed that Conceptual artists were mystics rather rationalists, but his branch of the movement certainly employed the most rational means possible to reach their spiritual ends. With correspondence between Gaines and LeWitt on view in this early-career survey, “Gridwork 1974–1989,” the elder artist’s gnomic utterances function almost as geometric postulates, but Gaines takes that Conceptualist affection for algorithmic indices to their logical conclusion and beyond.

    Staring down

  • picks January 29, 2015

    Mike Kuchar

    Burnished bubble butts beam with unholy light. Cut and uncut, huge, veiny cocks blossom from every angle. Angels and gods, gladiators and cavemen, street hustlers and bodybuilders, S-M beltings and four-way pirate fuckfests are all drawn with the bright hues and hard lines of comic-book superheroes. The Los Angeles debut of underground-film hero Mike Kuchar (best known for collaborations with his brother, George) hangs and screens five decades of lusty illustration and delightfully schlocky film. Kuchar creams and colorizes a tradition set by Tom of Finland’s pencil drawings of leathered men

  • picks January 28, 2015

    Mira Dancy

    Under shadowy neon and nighthawk noir, the lithe limbs and strong bodies of Mira Dancy’s numerous psychic ladies, perfume models, and mixed deities invitingly odalisque. This normally coy pose carries here a decidedly intense authority, more Marlene Dietrich than Marilyn Monroe (or perhaps more Siouxsie Sioux than Debbie Gibson). Dancy’s loose lines never goop into impasto in her paintings, but possess the super flatness of advertisements, which are clearly mimicked in her composition of elements and bold headlines for rhymable aromas (“Herfumes Perfumes”) and pawnshop clairvoyants. With allusive

  • picks January 26, 2015

    Helen Johnson

    With gossamer lyricism and cartoony glee, Australian artist Helen Johnson paints her meandering mediations in layers of figure and material, wit and research. Loose papers blow over goofy patterns and comic clips, swirling globs of paint cloud scraps of figuration, while actual clouds hide all but the pointed fingers of lithe hands with painted nails pointing out into the misty void (I opened my hand, 2014). Notes and observations are written in a loopy black cursive, mostly on the back of long, loose, unframed canvases hanging from chains. And besides the literal presence of words here, her