Benjamin Weissman

  • Eric Magnuson

    Eric Magnuson uses essentially meaningless phrases to lecture us regarding the problems we face as a trapped art public. In A Typical Whorl (all works, 1989), the words “AMORTALMUST/THINKMORTAL/ANDNOTMMOR/TALTHOUGHTS” are crunched together in four lines on a black background, each block letter illuminated by an overall spiral pattern. Closed Circle (Ransom Note), reads, “Thought submits to the real compulsion of societal debt relations and deluded, claim this compulsion as its own.” The text is done Dada-poster style, in a variety of colors and typefaces. The painted sentence is in the shape of

  • Marc Pally

    The idea of one artist assembling a body of work and titling it “Group Show” is appealing and makes sense. Who better to pair oneself with than oneself? But as Franz Kafka noted, “I have hardly anything in common with myself.” For different reasons, this also might be true of Marc Pally’s message. Group Show (all works, 1989) is also a wall piece, consisting of 58 little paintings arranged in a giant oval. Each painting, with two exceptions, contains a two- or three-word phrase (“Hemorrhoid Sufferers,” “Cluster Analysis,” “Go For It,” “Crying Out Loud,”) or a name, such as “Oliver North” or “

  • Sophie Calle

    In delicate and menacing fashion, Sophie Calle explores questions of identity. This show consists of seven simple yet lengthy photo/text works produced by the French artist between 1979 and 1988. In Les Dormeurs (The sleepers, 1979), Calle set up an eight-day schedule, during which time a different person occupied her bed every eight hours. After each segment, the person was asked to leave, no exceptions, so the next sleeper could enter. She sat in a chair and observed her subjects, photographing them, establishing contact with minimal conversation, and taking notes. She also fed her subjects

  • Nayland Blake

    This show consisted of six artworks, all 1989, and functioned as a philosophical game of three against three: transcendent words versus sinister objects. At the same time, it resembled a lesson plan, with viewers as the submissive pupils, and the artist as the subversive instructor.

    The word team begins with lesson one, Schatzman Hallucination Guide. Written in ink on a blackboard is the following: “Construct a sentence to render the event in words. Withdraw consciousness from the event. Deny the previous steps, the next steps, and the denials. Change the subject, verb or object of the sentence

  • Tom Knechtel

    In the spirit of childhood curiosity and horror, Tom Knechtel has drawn and painted a world of animals, principally the bat. Early in life most children learn that bats are to be feared. The animals’ habits—sleeping upside down, seeing by sonic screeches—seem too complicated and surreal for barbaric city intelligence. Knechtel depicts the maligned creatures in various states of life and death, most of them fantasy dramas. In a series of six silverpoint portraits entitled “A Commedia Dell’Arte Troupe for Nora Klein,” 1988, Knechtel has drawn immaculate straightforward renderings of bats’ faces.

  • Renee Petropoulos

    In terms of painting as a sensuous articulation of lines and masses of color, Renee Petropoulos’ work is remarkable. Her surfaces are luscious; her vocabulary of color, extensive. The works’ animated bearing is both audible and seductive. Her brushwork functions as syntax. It’s rendered in an optical cadence, communicated in deliberate, tactile syllables. All of these paintings have a rational madness about them. They speak their piece in a thorough, self-possessed manner, yet their message is inexplicably maniacal and threatening. For instance, The Wreath, The Vine, 1987, is loaded with the

  • Patrick Hogan

    Throughout his too-short career, Patrick Hogan’s physical limitations determined his working method. All his adult life he worked from a wheel chair. Early on, when he had some use of his hands, he produced paintings on raw felt and kapok. He would brand canvases with a glob or two of paint, gestures that took the form of willful smears. These paintings are blunt, minimal, and somewhat surreal. The acrylic brushstrokes seem to float off the cloudlike surfaces.

    Eventually Hogan devised a method of painting whereby an assistant would execute his work, yet no trace of the assistant’s touch would be

  • Billy Al Bengston

    “Thirty Years of Work I Shouldn’t Sell” was the title of Billy Al Bengston’s show here. It recalls the title of Ed Ruscha’s “I Don’t Want No Retrospective” show. The title speaks for itself, doesn’t it? It’s the junk, right? The stuff he “shouldn’t sell,” and the joke’s on the art-pedestrian. Or is it the crème de la crème, his most personal works, the priceless collection? Either way, it’s an arrogant, egotistical title for a show. It’s also provocative, and that’s what Bengston is known for in Los Angeles—not necessarily his work, but the details surrounding it. A gallery opening at 7 A.M.

  • Roy Dowell

    Roy Dowell’s paintings and collages contain an abundance of odd visual elements that normally would never be caught dead together on the same picture plane, let alone in the same artist’s brain. But Dowell performs an amazing and astute feat of integration. His garish profusion of colors and shapes could easily be misread as kitsch, irony, or artistic commentary on notions xyz. But they’re not any of those things. The show, entitled “The Grand Order of Things” and consisting of 6 large paintings and 11 small collages, is very much alive and intelligent, and it presents a load of valuable

  • Cam Slocum

    “Still,” the title of Cam Slocum’s recent body of work, refers to the frozen, continuous, disquieting life inside photographs of violence. This work taps into the human appetite for, and repulsion toward, representations of death. Slocum has taken such images, blown them up to 72 by 72 inches (aren’t a lot of artists reconsidering the big artwork? how else to get your attention?), and turned them into beautiful, grand paintings. The technique is derived from a late-19th-century photographic process in which large-scale negatives are developed by sunlight, then impregnated with pure pigment on

  • Nancy Dwyer

    Nancy Dwyer’s recent work—here represented by six sculptures and three paintings—is about the mechanics of public and personal communication, the density and mystery of common words. The works call to mind the way the world speaks to people through advertisements. Dwyer uses the strategy an ad man might employ if it were contemplation his clients were after instead of giggles, seduction, and submission. This exhibition engaged viewers and posed troubling, indirect questions: How about your life? What’s your problem?

    Love Life (all works, 1988) is a very large gray painting with gold 3-D-looking

  • “Lost and Found in California: Four Decades of Assemblage Art”

    An ordinary human life is cluttered with many common objects that are taken for granted—light bulbs, steering wheels, chairs, string, radios, street signs, clothing, etc. Assemblage art grew out of and capitalized on the inclination to personalize these kinds of objects, to make them our own, and to imbue them with meaning. In this century, artists have taken the idea one step further, by constructing self-portraits, political commentaries, and other works out of found objects.

    “Lost and Found” was a museum-sized exhibit of the work of 85 artists who have focused on creating pieces using found