Christopher Miles

  • Robert Irwin, Untitled, 1968, acrylic lacquer on shaped aluminum and metal tube, 60 x 60 x 20".

    “Translucence: Southern California Art from the 1960s and 1970s”

    The show pinpoints a group that was simultaneously a subset of the finish-fetish crowd and the object-oriented kin of the Light and Space bunch, fusing a spit-polish literalism with airy illusionism and bastardizing stark Minimalist forms with a Pop Californian Romanticism.

    “I would like to have some magical saw,” artist DeWain Valentine once remarked, “that would allow me to cut up large sections of the sky or sea.” Such fantasy reveals much of the spirit behind this show of twenty-three works by ten artists (including Valentine) who worked in Southern California in the ’60s and ’70s and—inspired by everything from hot-rod finishes and surfboard resin to Malibu sunsets—experimented with glass, Plexiglas, fiberglass, and cast plastics to make objects that mimick, capture, reflect, and toy with light and atmosphere. The show

  • Otto Muehl

    A member of the Viennese Aktionist movement of the 1960s, and noted in particular for “material actions” that involved coating bodies engaged in choreographed carnality in soup, juice, and milk, Otto Muehl is no stranger to shock. Founder of the promiscuity-centered Friedrichshof Commune, he was imprisoned for most of the ’90s on charges of “criminal acts against morality.” The real surprise about Muehl’s recent exhibition at MC, however, was that it represented the eighty-year-old’s first-ever solo exhibition in the US. Attempting to make up for lost time, the gallery borrowed works from the

  • Soo Kim

    Soo Kim’s They Stop Looking at the Sky, 2006, which was shown recently in the Pasadena Museum of California Art’s project space, is a set of collages made by using a computer to juxtapose found and original photographs and new drawings, printing the results on single sheets of transparent film, then mounting each composition on one of three four-by-five-foot Plexiglas panels. The recurring image is a partial overhead view of a city. The architecture suggests a range of cultures, periods, and technologies; the overall mix makes it difficult to think of it as specific to a single place. Though

  • Misty Burruel

    In her second solo show at Newspace, Misty Burruel persisted in her attempt to engineer a decorative Pop-psychedelic Art of the Uncanny, here focusing on how representations of nature may become emblems of confusion, desire, aspiration, and tweaked Romanticism.

    Rim of the World, 2006, shared the title of Burruel’s show and formed the sculptural centerpiece of the main gallery. Modeled after a topographical map of three sites near Highway 18 in the San Bernardino Mountains, it is made from layered sheets of contoured birch plywood. Irregularly shaped but roughly the size of a boardroom table, it

  • Jörg Lozek

    It was hard at first to figure out just what was going on in the four large paintings of interiors that Leipzig-based artist Jörg Lozek presented, along with four portraits, in his recent US solo debut at Sandroni Rey. As whirlwinds of painted and drawn pattern—the surfaces depicted include wallpaper, flooring, and upholstery—jumbled with hard-edged swatches of poured color, they negotiated a tempestuous push-pull, becoming a sort of manic, quasi-illusionist take on Frank Stella’s late ’60s abstractions. But the compositional cacophony ultimately yields to spatial order, thanks in large part to

  • Sandeep Mukherjee

    Since 1997, when he was studying for his MFA at UCLA, Sandeep Mukherjee has exhibited subtly dynamic drawings made by embossing Duralene—a stiff, vellumlike material—with motifs of flowers, leaves, starbursts, and rippling water. Populating these works are faint yet precise pencil drawings of the nude figure of the artist strolling, floating, or hurtling through dreamlike space. Mukherjee has deviated from his successful formula only occasionally, making his latest offering all the more surprising and impactful.

    Sister played host to just a few works, all untitled, and all from 2004 or 2005. One

  • Doug Aitken

    What if you crossed a nonlinear, multiscreen video installation with a hall of mirrors? An unlikely question, perhaps, but one to which Doug Aitken’s the moment, 2005, provides an answer. The centerpiece of Aitken’s first hometown solo show, the work also reflects his rewarding tendency to engage the formal and metaphorical possibilities of presentation and context as he does the particulars of sound, imagery, and editing. This broad-based curiosity dovetails with other questions: How might one make a work that appears simultaneously linear and nonlinear, imbued with feelings of being whole and

  • Isaac Julien

    Isaac Julien’s recent exhibition at MAK Center for Art and Architecture consisted of a group of photographs, some of them triptychs, which are stills from a fourteen-minute film (not shown here) shot in Iceland and northern Sweden in 2004. Collectively titled “True North,” these works offer a loose retelling and interpretation—what Julien has called a “re-memorizing”—of the story of Matthew Henson. This underacknowledged African American was the right-hand man upon whom Robert E. Peary depended for the success of his 1909 expedition to the North Pole, and was likely the first man to reach the

  • Sebastian Ludwig

    On the evidence of this, his first solo exhibition outside Germany, Sebastian Ludwig might be a descendant of Piero della Francesca, Albrecht Dürer, M. C. Escher, Anselm Kiefer, or all of the above. At Patrick Painter, Inc., Ludwig exhibited landscape paintings combining expressionist brushwork and interwoven pattern with illusionism both naturalist and mannered, and a mix of representational styles that was visually cohesive despite the diversity of its origins.

    The coloration of the show’s eight paintings evokes tinted photographs and faded tapestries, dark and light tones defining layered

  • Jen Liu

    Jen Liu’s Soldiers of Light, 2005, is a head-on, single-shot video projection of eleven young, ethnically diverse men and women, varied in their personal grooming from beards and ponytails to shaved heads and in style from casual and baggy to tight and tailored. All wear white and either hop up and down or jog in place (one can’t tell which since the troupe is revealed only from waist up) to a sound track of footsteps and droning music in front of a backdrop depicting a spiral galaxy. Presented in the gallery’s side room and looping with an obvious jerk every three minutes, the apparently

  • Jared Pankin

    Jared Pankin’s practice combines sculptural precedents ranging from Baroque tableaux to post-Minimalist scatter with skills more commonly associated with set decorators, diorama builders, taxidermists, and Martha Stewart devotees. The results are quasi-narrative objects and installations fusing naturalism and realism (in scales shifting from the Lilliputian to the life-size) with romanticism, humor, and the decorative. This exhibition, Pankin’s first solo outing in seven years and his one-man debut at Carl Berg Gallery, included seven objects that draw one in with the intimate scale of their

  • Tara Donovan

    Appropriately titled “Tara Donovan: Survey,” the first major West Coast solo exhibition of this artist’s work was also, thanks to the spaciousness of Ace’s city-block-long gallery, something of an early retrospective. At their strongest, Donovan’s works merge literalist fascination with illusionist wonder, demonstrating how an artist can transform material and how art can transform experience. But while this seven-year overview wowed with impressive works, it also revealed some weaknesses.

    A 2005 remake of Donovan’s Ripple, 1998, a floor-based work comprising countless bits of electrical wire