Andy Campbell

  • picks September 25, 2017

    David Lamelas

    The paragraphs-long labels that accompany the many works in David Lamelas’s retrospective at California State University, Long Beach, some on display for the first time in the US, point to an artistic career of heady investigations into visual hermeneutics. Spurred on by the works of media theorists (Marshall McLuhan), structuralist thinkers (Roland Barthes, Claude Lévi-Strauss), and novelists (Marguerite Duras), Lamelas constructs pieces that unfold over time—requiring both patience and thought from a viewer. Slide projectors accompany a short film in Film Script (Manipulation of Meaning),

  • picks September 13, 2017

    Awol Erizku

    The appropriated images emblazoned on the multicolor wooden-pallet assemblages in Awol Erizku’s current exhibition, “Menace II Society,” are sourced from James Teemer’s rejected 1968 proposal for a Black Panthers coloring book. Teemer’s project had an interesting afterlife: Initially presented to the Panthers’ Sacramento chapter, party leadership deemed the book’s images inappropriate for children and had the first copies of it destroyed. Nevertheless, it eventually fell into the hands of the FBI, who used the volume as evidence in their ongoing campaign to discredit the party as an organized

  • picks August 20, 2017

    Peter Cain

    Because Peter Cain died so young—he began working in the late 1980s and died in 1997—he left a limited but conceptually concise oeuvre to make sense of. He is perhaps best known for his paintings of cars; whole, as in Satellite, 1988, or chopped and collaged, as in Glider, 1995. Similar to the look of the fold-ins at the back of MAD magazines, Cain would truncate advertising images of vehicles in ways that heightened and perverted the eroticism that has long undergirded automobile design. Then the artist painted these strange appropriations onto large canvases, some more than seven feet tall.

  • picks July 31, 2017

    “Hurts to Laugh”

    Walking along the narrow alleyway to get to this gallery’s main entrance, one hears the voice of comedian Maria Bamford. In her inimitable style, she addresses the social expectations that underscore, and perhaps produce, anxiety and depression, conditions which most of her family and friends would rather not deal with. When I arrived, she was poking a hole in the obnoxious positivity of her sister, who had just become a life coach.

    This is a fitting introduction for a group exhibition that teeters on the precipice between the pitiful and the absurdly funny. David Gilbert’s ink-jet prints of

  • picks July 26, 2017

    “HOME—So Different, So Appealing”

    And just like that, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is upon us. If this is the initiative’s opening salvo, then the portents are good. Organized by Chon A. Noriega, Mari Carmen Ramírez, and Pilar Tompkins Rivas, this exhibition represents the efforts of three giants within the field of Latin American and Chicanx/Latinx curatorial practice.

    The show excels in presenting intricate, and sometimes cumbersome, room-size installations. Luis Camnitzer’s Living Room, 1968, articulates a concrete poetry of domesticity, with vinyl stickers featuring words around the room where furniture and household objects

  • picks July 22, 2017

    Farah Atassi

    Digesting a history of modernist art and design—high points include Fernand Léger’s early twentieth-century paintings and Oskar Schlemmer’s truly bonkers Triadic Ballet, 1922—Farah Atassi attempts to continue that era’s experimental ethos with the trappings of her contemporary world. In Blue Guitar (all works 2017), bendy yoga practitioners curlicue around the musical instrument, its sound hole replaced by the narrow slots of an electrical outlet. Nearby, a clock (Still Life with Clock 2) marks the time—a constant companion in this exhibition of eight paintings.

    These works are in accord; each

  • picks July 09, 2017

    “Sunlight arrives only at its proper hour”

    The most provocative moments of this exhibition ask viewers to rethink their own canon(s) via a superb selection of works from artists mostly marginalized from the annals of art. Works rhyme across the vast space of this gallery—and some are nearly swallowed up by it. Two Cameron drawings (from the series “Pluto Transiting the Twelfth House,” 1978–86, and “Untitled (from the Lion Path series),” n.d.) find echoes in paintings on canvas by Magalie Comeau and a black Jay DeFeo painting on paper, the latter sadly confined to a dim cul-de-sac build-out. Bill Hayden’s carved Oryx horn sculpture, ohoui

  • picks June 30, 2017

    “Blue Danube”

    Vulgarian is an insult you don’t hear often anymore (Graydon Carter’s description of the “short-fingered vulgarian” who now occupies the White House notwithstanding). Emily Post famously defined the term in her 1922 guide Etiquette, as those who “never had an opportunity to acquire cultivation.” Stemming from the Latin word vulgaris, meaning common or ordinary, the vulgarian was a bogeyman of twentieth-century American class relations—bringing together poor taste in consumption and crude behavior to form a type. But this figuration of the commoner also has the potential to be recuperated in the

  • picks June 19, 2017

    “Blackout”

    Collages can be construed as a mode of time travel, as they are made from bits of material or images, usually culled from everyday life, that are put into adjacency. Those who seek to interpret collages not only keep in mind the effects a particular work might have on a viewer (surreal and uncanny are old sawhorses) but also that they must record the respective histories of the individual pieces of the whole, relaying how images and text can be repurposed, retooled, and resignified. In this way the technique has been proposed as a thoroughly modern or postmodern (pick your poison) media. It

  • picks June 12, 2017

    Al Loving

    So voracious is the presence of the twelve works in this focused retrospective of Al Loving’s work, set as they are against the inert framing of the white cube, that they might be better described by the activities that resulted in their making: stack, weave, layer, tear, cut, drip. The five works in the first gallery are essentially collages of interwoven spirals and grids, often brightly painted, glittered, and glossed to a gaudy, reflective shine. At once galactic and crafty, they push against orthodoxies of the medium, as they are without ground or matrix onto which the various elements are

  • picks June 09, 2017

    Mai-Thu Perret

    When Monique Wittig wrote Les Guérillères (The Guerillas) in 1969, she was already a celebrated author in France. She pioneered a mode of storytelling that put female protagonists at the epicenter, and formulated a writing style that set narrative fragments in loose coordination with one another, challenging orthodox boundaries between prose and poetry (something that fellow feminist theorist Hélène Cixous would later term l’ecriture feminine). Les Guérillères chronicles the goings-on of an army of women. Throughout the text, in which Wittig’s subjects are often referred to collectively, the

  • picks May 15, 2017

    Pippa Garner

    The genre of prop comedy is too easily dismissed. Think of the groans or eye rolls elicited by the mere mention of Carrot Top or Gallagher—two performers who are readily aligned with the form. What often gets lost in this general annoyance, though, is the comic’s ability to fuse, and sometimes counter, cultural norms and expectations via the mechanical processes of prototyping and invention. When done right, the results of such comedy are as compelling as they are challenging and can amount to a critique of labor under capitalism (the gimmick, as Sianne Ngai points out in her recent lecture “

  • picks May 08, 2017

    McDermott & McGough

    Three large paintings of domestic interiors fill the garage of this bungalow gallery. They depict well-appointed spaces—plush furniture, fresh flowers, and plants are the only occupants of these rooms. Where there are windows, curtains are drawn to cover them. A copy of Gore Vidal’s The City and the Pillar (1948) hangs out on a red Eames chair in Furnishings, Works of Art, and Other Status Symbols (all works dated anachronistically, 1965/2017), and a short stack of midcentury crypto-homosexual magazines (Male Figure, Grecian Guild Pictorial, and Tomorrow’s Man) touches the bottom edge of the

  • picks May 04, 2017

    Roni Shneior

    A large painting of an agave plant, titled Agave, 2017, serves as a fulcrum in this exhibition of painting and sculpture from Israeli-born, Los Angeles–based Roni Shneior. Unlike the agaves that one might find in a nursery, springy and symmetrical with dazzling leaves, this artist’s greenery is filled with a near-human pathos. Its components are variously at attention and rest; some impotently bend over, like half-hearted attempts at origami. The colors are muted—drab, mournful. The ghostly edges of the leaves are echoed in the lozenge-shaped “eye” that hovers above the plant and whose foggy

  • Sadie Benning

    “The 1950s were still very present,” remarked Sadie Benning of their 1970s childhood. “Whatever happens in the moment, it’s like a ripple effect. Something happens politically that affects people for many generations.” Gun/Egg, 2017, a triptych on display in Benning’s solo presentation at Susanne Vielmetter, subtly illustrates this point. In the work’s photograph-within-a-photograph that the artist inserted into a colorful painted wooden construction, a small black-and-white photo of a girl (who bares her teeth with the awkward vigor of someone who has been compelled to “smile BIG!”) is casually

  • picks April 10, 2017

    Charles Ross

    On the way to see Charles Ross’s first solo show in Los Angeles, I drove past one of the city’s many parks. There were shirtless men running, families strolling, and sunbathers lying on the grass—a picnic or a joint (or both!) near at hand. This scene provided a strangely apropos lead-in to the artist’s body of work, which, while abjuring any recreational activities under the sun, makes much of the science of sunlight.

    Almost half the works that make up this exhibition are from Ross’s long-running series “Solar Burns,” 1971–. These drawings—Ross has referred to them as “portraits of light”—index

  • picks March 30, 2017

    Jennie Jieun Lee

    By building a wooden catwalk, a vantage raised a couple feet from the gallery’s floor, Jennie Jieun Lee has transformed her solo exhibition of large-scale ceramic works into a total installation. The reclaimed wood out of which this architectural intervention was made, with both unpainted and whitewashed boards, serves to bring together standing sculptures such as Silent Activism and Adeline Boone, both 2017, as well as slab-rolled wall reliefs such as Public Transportation, 2017, while also exaggerating the gallery’s most prominent feature—a steep, grave-like concrete pit, vital to the space’s

  • picks March 27, 2017

    Justin Olerud and Patricio Manuel Bernal Morales

    The concomitant and proliferating desires of sex are at the center of this two-person exhibition. Justin Olerud’s paintings of Western ware, such as a saddle (Dusty Saddle, all works 2017) and a longhorn skull, hang in the first room and are sporadically interrupted by paintings featuring young chiseled, mostly nude white men dressed in cowboy garb (Lone Star and lone star), closely approximating—or appropriating—Bob Mizer’s legendarily camp photo shoots for his AMG studio from the 1950s to the 1970s. Lying about on the floor are large tumbleweeds, presenting obstacles to easy movement throughout

  • picks March 14, 2017

    “Escape Attempts”

    The 1973 Lucy Lippard essay from which this show takes its title offers an account of a certain slice of Conceptualism within the political ferment of New York in the 1960s. For Lippard, Minimalism served as an important foil for the doings of a group of artists who essentially sought to do “more with less.” The same is true for this group exhibition, which is not so much a counter to Minimalism as a reorientation of some of its key strategies—something that artists have been doing since that essay, perhaps most memorably Kirsten Justesen in her Sculpture II, 1968, which pictured a woman’s body

  • picks March 13, 2017

    Anna Craycroft

    What does it take to listen? Like looking and seeing, the difference between hearing and listening is significant—the former is a rote sensory activity, the latter a cognitive and affective process of absorption and integration. Listening, and the architectural conditions that might support it, is the focus of Anna Craycroft’s Tuning the Room in Variable Frequencies and Tuning the Room in Constant Amplitudes, both 2017, which make up her site-specific installation. Of the two contrasting spaces, the first is light and airy—metallic vinyl-tape murals of abstract sound waves line the walls, and