David Pagel

  • Richard Serra

    Five years ago, no one in their right mind would have used terms like user-friendly or playful to describe Richard Serra’s Cor-Ten steel sculptures. The tendency to think of the sculptor’s Minimalism only in terms of mass and gravity should end with this exhibition of nine recent large-scale works. Organized by MoCA director Richard Koshalek and the Guggenheim’s Julia Brown, it also might demonstrate the affinity between Serra’s work and that of Frank O. Gehry, the architect who designed the two venues housing the show. On the West Coast at least, it’s hard not to think of Serra’s recent

  • Allan Graham

    Allan Graham’s deliberately dysfunctional doors metaphorically open onto the series of paradoxes that once grounded representational painting: before they migrated to formalist abstraction, then mutated into Minimalist installations, and finally disappeared into what is commonly thought of as everyday life. The artist’s meticulously unfinished and unenterable constructions neatly chart the architecture of an essential aspect of Modernism’s negative impulse—its desire to align the rarefied territory of esthetic experience with the mundane.

    On the surface, Graham’s works are common, slightly altered

  • James Hyde

    Like ruins from some future archaeological dig, James Hyde’s nonrepresentational “frescoes” on large chunks of Styrofoam give suggestive shape to the fleeting landscape of the present. Unlike much theory-fueled abstract painting, Hyde’s works are at once elusive and materialist, playful and rigorous. They manage to carve out a paradoxical place for themselves by letting the present slip silently away, but not without surreptitiously exerting a slight spin on its invisible trajectory.

    Hyde’s paintings work in the space between memory and experience. As ungraspable recollections or fluid distortions,

  • Manny Farber

    Looser and more insouciant than anything he has painted, Manny Farber’s most recent amalgams of landscape, still life, and symbolic self-portraiture are at once more relaxed and aggressive, jam-packed and freewheeling than any of his representational pictures from the past twenty years. In the past, straightforward oppositions between figure and ground, abstraction and representation, form and content informed Farber’s cleverly self-referential and often slyly humorous works. In his new pictures, these well-worn formal issues are overwhelmed by an excess of visual energy—bravura brushwork, juicy

  • “The Los Angeles International”

    The “Los Angeles International” made it painfully clear that if the “global village” Marshall McLuhan fantasized about had indeed arrived, the utopia that was supposed to accompany the delirious, unending transmission of information somehow got lost in transit. Caught between their desire to import the best the art world had to offer, and the futility of financing such a grand and suddenly outdated endeavor, the organizers of the “International” created an interesting and important event that, despite its shortcomings, has the potential to develop into an exciting biannual invitational—if its

  • Charles LaBelle

    Part guinea pig and pack rat, private eye, and military strategist, Charles LaBelle is an oddball cartographer whose projects map the mismatches and overlaps of various approaches to factual documentation. His latest installation broke down into three groups of work that added up to a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Collectively titled Colonies II, 1993, his constellation of fabricated and found objects consisted of discarded mattresses, abandoned sofa cushions, innumerable pushpins, documentary photographs, and a silent video. The young, L.A.–based artist’s installation brought

  • Hiroshi Sugimoto

    Fundamental things, like light and time, the sea and the sky, meet up with the utter artifice of movie theaters and museum dioramas in Hiroshi Sugimoto’s black and white photographs. At once crystal clear and unfathomably ambiguous, the three series he produced over the past two decades offer a focused meditation on those rare moments when history’s steady progression seems to come to an abrupt stop. The transcendence that is embodied in his pictures, however, shares nothing with the static perfection we associate with eternity. On the contrary, Sugimoto’s photographs approach timelessness not

  • Michael Goldberg

    Consisting wholly of decisive starts and sudden stops—of thick strokes of paint and their clear-cut interruption—Michael Goldberg’s newest paintings simultaneously punch themselves out as bold, graphic patterns and unravel with a reckless embrace of chaos’ inevitability. His insistently dishevelled abstractions demonstrate that a resolutely formal approach to painting in no way limits the visual energy an image is able to generate. The 69-year-old, second-generation Abstract Expressionist’s latest body of work continues Golberg’s life-long exploration of the viability of line, color, surface,

  • Lydia Dona

    Entropy disintegrates and is simultaneously regenerated in Lydia Dona’s mappings of the void. Her supercharged explorations of nothingness do not take the form of pure, aggressive negations, nor do they skirt around the impossibility of representing this unpictureable realm. In her theoretical paintings, Dona plunges into the miasma at the center of absolute absence. Without restraint or hesitation, her systematic abstractions give compelling physical form to the unbridgeable gap between cognition and perception, knowledge and experience. The visual shifts, planar slippages, diagrammatic

  • Nancy Mitchnick

    Nancy Mitchnick’s compact paintings of lightbulbs and landscapes fuse the elusive beauty of light-saturated color with the tac-tile materiality of common, mass-produced objects. Simultaneously sumptuous and understated, ravishingly gorgeous and perfectly ordinary, her deceptively simple images create a palimpsest of narratives on a single, painterly surface. Mitchnick’s realistic depictions bring the rich, if long-beleaguered, traditions of still life, landscape, and portraiture into the present. Smartly exaggerating the tendency of contemporary photo-based conceptualism toward tight cropping,

  • Kevin Sullivan

    In Kevin Sullivan’s show of simple paintings, silly poems, and objects that would not be out of place on a Hollywood set, the sleep of reason yields mild amusement rather than horrifying nightmares or dramatic disruptions of meaning. Titled “E. Krökus Crock,” this exhibition by the young, L.A.–based artist drew more from comic strips and kitsch than from Surrealism. Although concerned with chance encounters, random events, strange correlations, and the limits of rationality, Sullivan’s art nowhere shares Surrealism’s obsession with sexuality and the unconscious. His light-handed but hardly

  • Daniel Wiener

    A loopy parade of pre-oedipal playthings surrounded the visitor to Daniel Wiener’s jam-packed exhibition of unnameable sculptural objects. His exuberantly colored, multitextured, and polymorphously perverse configurations of the materials from which household handicrafts arc often made seem to be the real, living fusions of abstract mutant cartoon characters and unattached libidinal energy. You could easily imagine that the strangely familiar things that touched every surface of the gallery and charged every inch of its space resulted from a chance encounter between the 20th-century psychoanalyst