Annie Buckley

  • picks February 23, 2015

    “In Search of the Dot That Created the Circle”

    In “Under the Gaze of Theory,” an essay published on e-flux that tracks the relationship between art and theory, Boris Groys suggests one possible explanation for a notable absence of the spiritual in contemporary art: “Philosophy privileges contemplation. Theory privileges action and practice—and hates passivity.” Recent news from Paris and Copenhagen tragically demonstrates that images about religion, particularly Islam, incite anything but passivity. But art genuinely rooted in religion or spirituality still struggles to find its place in contemporary culture. Into this dichotomous context

  • picks January 30, 2015

    Ai Weiwei

    The voice of Tibetan singer Lolo, who was imprisoned by Chinese authorities for his pro–Tibetan independence songs, eases through the grate of a tiny, dilapidated cell in the prison’s “A Block,” which once housed conscientious objectors during World War I and now resounds with the voices of dissident poets and artists imprisoned around the world. The sound installation Stay Tuned, 2014, is part of Ai Weiwei’s staggering feat of public art currently occupying Alcatraz. Spanning multiple locations in the former penitentiary, the show features a multilayered relationship to site—complicated by the

  • picks August 18, 2014

    Beatrice Wood

    Beatrice Wood is best known for her lusterware pottery, so this exhibition of nearly fifty works on paper, made over the course of a staggering eighty-seven years, is surprising and also gratifying. Despite drawing on styles that veer from commercial illustration to delicate abstraction and Cubist figuration, Wood’s distinct visual stamp and sensibility persist through changing influences and decades. The drawings have the combined openness and intimacy of a daily diary, revealing the wit and humor, pathos and joie de vivre for which Wood’s so well known. For example, works from “Touching Certain

  • picks August 07, 2014

    Gina Osterloh

    On the opening night of Gina Osterloh’s show, visitors encountered an enigmatic sight: a large, red paper screen supported by a simple wood base. The installation turned out to be a prop for Osterloh’s brief but impactful performance. Clad in a nude leotard, the artist swiftly and determinedly enacted a series of operations that altered the paper, at times striking it with her hand or cutting into it with a utility knife. At the close, viewers were guided to chant “prick, prick, prick, prick” as Osterloh leapt through the paper and landed on the floor. The propulsive power of that act and staccato

  • picks May 14, 2014

    “LA Heat”

    When the Chinese American Museum developed an exhibition inspired by two locally made hot sauces, there was no doubt that some found the show’s premise a dubious proposition at best, anticipating flippant treatments of food and multiculturalism. The result is anything but; “LA Heat” embodies a sophisticated, playful, and complex view of culture, specifically positing the cultural coalescences and convergences that happen despite subtle but impactful stereotypes that presume (and precede) separation and difference. The sauces at the center of all this are Sriracha and Tapatío, two businesses

  • picks April 14, 2014

    Jacob Hashimoto

    This third and final rendition of Jacob Hashimoto’s two-story installation Gas Giant, 2014, includes thousands of small rice-paper disks, squares, diamonds, and other shapes, each supported by a thin bamboo frame and suspended from the ceiling by a delicate line. Repurposing parts from its earlier iterations, Gas Giant is an expansive and multifaceted sculptural collage that reaches thirty-four feet into the air, suspended from the upper level of the museum’s airy central space. Throughout, paper pieces are hung in clusters, each organized by color and shape—blue squares, white ovals, yellow

  • picks March 25, 2014

    Rena Small

    The word handmade unravels in the near-impossible task of identifying a divide between tools and technology; what makes a clay pot handmade and a photograph something else, if a human hand is at the helm of both? The word organic is often used, rather less problematically, to describe artworks that could also qualify for that amorphous “handmade” descriptor, and so it is an elegant twist that Rena Small’s longtime project in photography—the medium whose emergence helped give rise, by way of contrast, to “handmade” as a signifier in art—is infused with a sense of organic process. On view in full

  • picks November 11, 2013

    Shizu Saldamando

    Whether drinking, kissing, or huddling in bathroom stalls or on concert room floors, Shizu Saldamando’s subjects exude a sense of glittery calm—the girls are tough, the boys are vulnerable, and nonconformity rules. Cool kids dangle cigarettes emitting shimmering smoke, pose with gestures that seem coded for insiders, and embrace one another with a sweetness more reminiscent of the flowery essence of courtly romance than the edgy complexity of contemporary intimacy. In this exhibition’s delicate drawings, meticulous paintings, and collages, Saldamando lends her subjects (and her friends) a surreal

  • picks September 09, 2013

    “Ignite! The Art of Sustainability”

    From its organizing principle of putting artists in dialogue with scientists and environmentalists down to the reused shipping crates that were used to transport the pieces on view, this traveling exhibition takes a thoughtful and holistic approach to art that deals with the environment. Curated by Kate Davies, “Ignite!” grew out of discussions between the Green Museums Initiative and the Committee of the California Association of Museums; from there, seven of the thirteen participating artists took part in regional conversations prior to making work. The depth and breadth of the show reflect

  • picks May 13, 2013

    Antonio Adriano Puleo

    Stripping away affect and objective referent, Antonio Adriano Puleo’s new body of work relies on form, color, and process. Composed primarily of bits of string, fabric, wood, cardboard, and a large quantity of paint, these paintings and sculptures are refreshing in their direct simplicity. The exhibition as a whole is equally imbued with tradition and innovation, but four works in particular—Untitled 1b-35b, 1c-35c, 1d-35d, and 1e-35e, all 2010-13—embody this fusion; each consists of thirty-five nine-by-twelve-inch paintings in the shape of a grid. Like instruments in an orchestra, each individual

  • picks April 23, 2013

    Connie Samaras

    This comprehensive exhibition of Connie Samaras’s work over the past fifteen years, curated by Irene Tsatsos, includes photographs and videos from six series. Most of the forty-four large color photographs depict land- and cityscapes in the United States and abroad, but two videos included in the series “V.A.L.I.S. (vast active living intelligence system),” 2005, shot in Antarctica, depict living beings, one a seal breathing through a hole in the ice, the other a man, fast asleep in a red snowsuit aboard a plane returning from the South Pole. Though actual human (or animal) life is rarely seen,

  • picks January 08, 2013

    “Lost (in LA)”

    “Lost (in LA)”, curated by Marc-Olivier Wahler and presented by FLAX (France Los Angeles Exchange) with the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, includes works by twenty-nine artists from France and the United States. A handful of familiar Los Angeles names are included—Marnie Weber, Jim Shaw, Mike Kelley, Guy de Cointet, and Robert Overby—along with numerous notables from France, such as Mathieu Mercier, Oscar Tuazon, and the 2012 winners of the Prix Marcel Duchamp, Daniel Dewar and Gregory Gicquel. The public gallery space, set on a Hollywood hill with panoramic views of the city, is

  • picks September 30, 2012

    Dimitri Kozyrev

    Wassily Kandinsky begins “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” (1911) by railing against attempts to “revive the art principles of the past,” but makes an important exception for art that resuscitates “the external forms which served to express those inner feelings in an earlier age.” Viewed through this lens, Dimitri Kozyrev’s joyously complex paintings revitalize the idealism and vigor of an earlier time, recalling Kandinsky’s own radiant abstractions and, in their hints of representation, those by Arshile Gorky. Like Kozyrev, both of these artists often relied on memories of their homeland for

  • picks September 27, 2012

    April Street

    The tenuous solidity of April Street’s new paintings places them in dialogue with the informel, or formless, as defined by Georges Bataille and taken up by Rosalind E. Krauss and Yve-Alain Bois in their 1997 book of the same title. Yet the materiality of Street’s painted and sculpted nylon, and its indexical relationship to the body, echoes less ephemeral work by the likes of Eva Hesse and Alina Szapocznikow. Street begins each piece by wrapping her body in paint-soaked fabric and reenacting, on canvas, the positions she imagines she has taken while sleeping. She proceeds with a series of

  • picks June 05, 2012

    Dinh Q. Lê

    Time appears to collapse before our eyes on the textured surfaces of Dinh Q. Lê’s latest woven photographs. Lê’s technique of interlacing, which is based on a traditional Vietnamese weaving technique, hasn’t lost any of its power since the early 1990s, when he began to exhibit works made in this way. Here, framed photo-weavings are presented in horizontal groupings or vertical stacks. Black-and-white photographs, cut into strips, are woven together to create composites; ancient Sumerian ruins (in modern-day Iraq) and contemporary pictures of Iraqi citizens, culled from the Internet, are threaded

  • picks April 25, 2012

    Hugo Wilson

    Hugo Wilson’s sumptuous oil paintings and delicate drawings, rendered in a dramatic-realist style reminiscent of Dutch masters, depict endearingly quirky subjects—a proboscis monkey elegantly perched in a wooden frame; a collection of claws, feathers, creatures, and a highly detailed human heart—that charm and seduce viewers into the more implicit topic of his work: the amorphous space in which meaning is made. Wilson gravitates toward the past but is informed by a contemporary idea; hauntology, recently in vogue in literary theory, came to light with Jacques Derrida’s Spectres de Marx (1993),

  • picks February 28, 2012

    Alina Szapocznikow

    Fortunate viewers will already be familiar with the art of Alina Szapocznikow, but most of these likely reside in the artist’s native Poland, where her sculptures and drawings were widely exhibited during her too-short career in the 1950s and ‘60s. But for this viewer, the survey of her work, organized by a phalanx of international museums, offered that rare luminous sense of discovery that comes with encountering a phenomenal artist for the first time. The pieces on view, impressive in both number and variety, chronicle Szapocznikow’s singular vision; through explorations in media, starting

  • picks November 04, 2011

    Wallace Berman and Robert Heinecken

    “Speaking in Tongues,” curated by Claudia Bohn-Spector and Sam Mellon, pairs Wallace Berman, a spiritual father to LA’s “Cool School” of the 1960s and ’70s, with Robert Heinecken, who shared with Berman an interest in pushing the boundaries of photography as well as a close friendship. The exhibition covers the years 1961 to 1976, a time when photographic innovation meant something entirely different from the myriad forms of digital manipulation it often implies today. One fascinating aspect of seeing these artists’ works side by side is how, together, they signal both the durability and the

  • picks October 13, 2011

    Charles Gaines

    Whether in peacetime or in battle, freedom is reanimated whenever it is demanded by a people who have risen up around its cause; Charles Gaines’s new body of work embraces the historical tide of protest and change fueled by these recurrent calls for liberty and, as such, is flooded with dimension and vitality in the wake of the Arab Spring. A three-panel LED light box, Sky Box I (all works 2011), experientially engages viewers in the ebb and flow of struggles for sovereignty over time. Each panel is inscribed with a text on human rights, starting with “A Declaration from the Poor Oppressed of

  • picks October 04, 2011

    Lee Mullican

    Though not officially related, Lee Mullican’s luminous paintings from the 1950s serve as a fitting prelude to “Pacific Standard Time” (PST). Typically using the edge of a palette knife to apply hundreds of blunt lines of oil paint, Mullican built the surface of each canvas into a tactile and layered field of pulsating colors including gold, orange, deep burgundy, and olive green. Perhaps most striking are two works from 1958 that discard color in favor of an impressively wide range of whites. Several compositions draw on Native American motifs and symbols of ancient cultures that call to mind