David Muenzer

  • Sam Contis, High Noon, 2014, ink-jet print, 24 x 30".
    picks September 05, 2016

    “In the Cut”

    “In the Cut” presents photographs by five artists that assume a documentary interest despite the liquidated descriptive powers of photography today. Take Lisa Ohlweiler’s seemingly factual photographs, for instance: Untitled, 2010, pictures a sunbathing man and Paradise, 2009, shows a golf course surrounded by palms. Everyday scenes, to be sure, but Los Angeles is a city whose main industry is generating images of it. Ohlweiler’s prints harmonize with that noisy surfeit of pictures.

    On the other hand, selections from Sam Contis’s series “Deep Springs,” 2013–15, with its focus on the titular

  • Sam Gilliam, Green April, 1969, acrylic on canvas, 98“ x 22' 7” x 4".
    picks June 08, 2016

    Sam Gilliam

    Are Sam Gilliam’s paintings improvisations, meticulously structured formalism, ethereal attempts at going beyond substance, social objects inextricably embedded in political struggles, or all of the above? The works in his current show, “Green April,” dating from 1968–70, crisscross these once well-policed boundaries that helped modernist painting lay claim to objectivity.

    Consider the show’s eponymous piece from 1969, a large rectangle of shifting emerald. The thin cascades of acrylic with aluminum dust conjure a portal while remaining indexical. The quality of light and wide format of this

  • Linda Stark, Ruins, 2008, oil and wood on canvas over panel, 36 x 36 x 3".
    picks April 22, 2016

    “The Ocular Bowl”

    “When you’re ready, you can open your eyes.” Guided meditations suspend vision in the name of presence, only bringing back sight to close each session. Phenomenological strains of modern painting, by contrast, offer vision as the primary vehicle for experience. With works by Agnes Pelton, Linda Stark, and Alex Olson, “The Ocular Bowl” presents three generations of practitioners whose paintings invoke spiritual consciousness.

    In Pelton’s 1929 oil-on-canvas work, Star Gazer, the roughly symmetrical composition and rich color give it the force of an icon. A flower in the lower third of the canvas

  • Ed Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz, Bout Round Eleven, 1982, mixed-media assemblage, 90 x 97 x 92".
    picks March 10, 2016

    Ed Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz

    For the exhibition “Kienholz Televisions,” the gallery’s walls have been painted gray—an appropriate midpoint between black box and white cube, which allows an array of assemblage boob tubes to set the scene. Collaborative works by Nancy Reddin Kienholz and Ed Kienholz make up the bulk of the cast, although a few pieces that predate their collaboration, such as Kienholz’s Solid State, ca. 1965, and Cement TV, 1969, as well as a single work by Reddin Kienholz alone, Home Sweet Home, 2006, contribute to the show’s forty-one-year span.

    An air of everyday horror pervades, as in the collaborative

  • Julien Ceccaldi, Subway Cumrag, 2016, acrylic on wall, 8 x 18 1/2'.
    picks January 30, 2016

    Julien Ceccaldi

    The titular characters of Julien Ceccaldi’s exhibition “King and Slave” touch, glance, mutate, and recoil across seven paintings and drawings that use the grammar of manga to hyperbolically depict desire and disgust, confidence and shame—often all at once.

    See, for example Bed, (all works 2016) one of five drawings that employ animation materials, layering acrylic on acetate and pencil on tracing paper over vinyl on board. In the foreground, a thick-necked hunk kisses the bony cheek of his wizened companion, whose cocked smile and sideward glance signals pleasure. But the background, which

  • Claudio Verna, Grande arancio (Large Orange), 2007, acrylic on canvas, 79 x 75".
    picks December 07, 2015

    Claudio Verna

    The saturated, nominally abstract paintings in Claudio Verna’s solo debut at this gallery span forty-five years. Their titles seem redundantly straightforward, as with the near-monochromes named for their format and color in Double Acrylic II, 1968, which combines two acrylic canvas into a single work, or Large Orange, 2007, a sizable orange painting, as promised. In the case of Dionysus, 1990, invoking the god of passionate abandon seems embarrassingly directive, an attempt to guarantee that the mesh of brushstrokes on the deep-red oil painting be taken as spontaneous gestures rather than

  • Jean-Pierre Jacquet, Teri When-Damisch, Madelon Vriesendorp, Caught in the Act, 1980, animation, color, sound, 10 minutes 14 seconds.
    picks October 28, 2015

    “Open House”

    While “sex sells” may be a marketing truism, presenting products with gradient backgrounds, retouched hands, and well-made beds often seems clinically tidy—an outright denial of psychology more than repression. “Open House,” a group exhibition organized by Jedediah Caesar at California State University, Bakersfield, offers conflicting attitudes toward a loaded commercial landscape. Take, for instance, Madelon Vriesendorp, Teri When-Damisch, and Jean-Pierre Jacquet’s 1980 animation Caught in the Act, where the Statue of Liberty mutates with jealousy at the sight of the Empire State and Chrysler

  • View of “Y.O.Y.O.G.A.L.A.N.D.,” 2015.
    picks March 04, 2015

    Ei Arakawa and Karl Holmqvist

    In “Y.O.Y.O.G.A.L.A.N.D.,” Ei Arakawa and Karl Holmqvist present videos and geodesic domes among text works on lamps, wallpaper, and prints. By drawing parallels between electrical and artistic energy, these pieces perform debates usually conducted through science or public policy.

    See wallpaper on which slogans such as the German 1970s antinuclear campaign “Atomkraft? Nein Danke” are juxtaposed with such aphoristic statements as “CHARITY WILL NEVER WORK.” Or lithographs of early geothermal power, overwritten in marker: “GO GREEN CLINIC / WHAT YOU THINK.” Referring to both conservation rhetoric