Jan Tumlir

  • View of “Walead Beshty,” 2011.

    Walead Beshty

    Around 2006, a transition occurred in Walead Beshty’s work that brought him from the margins of photography-as-art to the center of art photography: the catalyzing “Travel Pictures,” 2006–2008, a group of photographs shot in an abandoned Iraqi embassy in the former GDR using film that, in transit back to the US, became imprinted with the X-ray “eye” of an airport scanner. In the finished images, the record of the machine’s probing rays appears as an abstracting layer of colored bands atop a succession of relatively “straight” documentary views of the derelict embassy to encode a timely aesthetic

  • Clay Geerdes, Cockettes Photo, 1972, color photograph, 32 x 24". From “West of Center,” MCA Denver.

    “West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965–1977”

    The Happenings and Coalitions of the New York avant-garde are well known; less so their counterparts from the western US. In a concerted effort to redress this imbalance, “West of Center” assembles more than 130 artworks and artifacts from this highly experimental moment, investigating the extension of aesthetic thought outside of its comfort zone via hybridized modes of social, political, and ecological intervention by collective groups working left of the Continental Divide. Moving between the workshops of Anna and Lawrence Halprin, the media events of

  • Brad Spence, Courtroom, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 49 1/2 x 67".

    Brad Spence

    The title of Brad Spence’s fourth solo show at Shoshana Wayne Gallery, “(figs.),” simultaneously bespeaks the open-endedness and closure of the fourteen immaculately airbrushed Photorealist paintings that were on view. When abbreviated and bracketed, the word typically indicates a particular kind of “figure,” a reference image or diagram tied to a text. Previously, Spence has organized bodies of work around themes straightforwardly declared in his exhibition titles—“The Afterlife,” “Art Therapy,” “As I Was Conceived”—so that even if individual pieces occasionally strayed into ambiguous

  • Mark Flores, See This Through, 2009–10, ninety-nine oil-on-canvas panels and one pastel-on-paper drawing, dimensions variable.

    Mark Flores

    The first things one sees upon entering the Hammer Museum are the ramp leading up to the atrium, and, for the past ten years, just beyond its sleek metal balustrade, the latest temporary site-specific lobby work commissioned by the museum. Since late October, visitors have been confronted by a mural of sorts—a sprawling collection of canvases, big and small, rendered in a variety of styles ranging from Academic Realism to Expressionism to Pop to post-painterly abstraction—by LA-based artist Mark Flores titled See This Through, 2009–10. Some of the work’s ninety-nine paintings are

  • Eileen Quinlan,The Raft, 2010, black-and-white photograph mounted on aluminum, 60 x 48". From “All of This and Nothing.”

    All of This and Nothing

    For this sixth edition of the Hammer Invitational, curators Anne Ellegood and Douglas Fogle have decided to expand the show’s reach to include figures from well outside of Los Angeles such as Karla Black, Fernando Ortega, and Eileen Quinlan, alongside a mix of local names, from Dianna Molzan to Frances Stark.

    For this sixth edition of the Hammer Invitational, curators Anne Ellegood and Douglas Fogle have decided to expand the show’s reach to include figures from well outside of Los Angeles such as Karla Black, Fernando Ortega, and Eileen Quinlan, alongside a mix of local names, from Dianna Molzan to Frances Stark. The connective tissue between all fourteen artists is finer than ever before, having less to do with a conceptual or material focus than with a subtle ambivalence that is very much of the moment. As the title, a Psychedelic Furs reference, suggests,

  • View of Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, “Bright White Underground,” 2010.

    Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe

    For anyone familiar with Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe’s previous collaborations—from their initial exploration of speed psychosis (Hello Meth Lab in the Sun, 2008) to the more hallucinogenic Black Acid Co-op, 2009—it would have been evident that, in their most recent effort, Bright White Underground, 2010, the drugs may have changed once more, but the song remained the same. Again we were shown the bitter fallout from a period of overextended euphoria, as manifested in architectural wreckage; the literal deconstruction of built space as a direct analogy to bodies flooded with toxins.

  • Paul Winstanley

    For the past three decades, British artist Paul Winstanley has been painting the future past—that utopian architectural imaginary of the postwar years concretized in a range of quasi-public/quasi-private milieus, from the airport to the hospital—making only the most incremental variations in his address of the subject matter from one show to the next. With this exhibition of eight oil paintings on linen, Winstanley remains consistent in his examination of modernity as a cultural phenomenon, but one that exceeds the narrower aesthetic parameters of modernism per se. The most obvious model for

  • Jorge Pardo

    Bulgogi,” as Jorge Pardo’s latest outing at Gagosian was cryptically titled, denotes a classic Korean dish of marinated barbecued meat. The name related most obviously to the show’s centerpiece, Untitled (Drawing Room) (all works 2010), an enclosed pagoda-like structure made of wood—a form by now as familiar to Pardo’s viewers as his signature lamps—that had been erected in the center of the gallery. As expected, the work’s interior was furnished with new lamps, here tightly clustered to form a chandelier with undulating contours echoed by the shape of the pagoda itself, giving visitors the

  • Jim Shaw, Ticker-Tape Laocoon (detail), 2008, acrylic and oil on canvas, 25' x 24' 5".

    Jim Shaw: Left Behind

    Under the umbrella of author-critique, the schizoid genre of the solo-show-as-group-show became a staple of 1980s art, and Jim Shaw was certainly one of its foremost purveyors...

    Under the umbrella of author-critique, the schizoid genre of the solo-show-as-group-show became a staple of 1980s art, and Jim Shaw was certainly one of its foremost purveyors. More recently, he has synthesized his multiple influences into a seeming stylelessness, but one that bristles nonetheless with the contradictions of American society. Here, Shaw presents his latest series of monumental set pieces, theatrical arrangements of painterly and sculptural elements that answer to the unsettling aesthetics of the new Christian Right. The now sublime, now abject convulsions

  • Matt Mullican

    The title “Matt Mullican: Works from the 1980s and 90s” is telling; it is during that era that Mullican gained entrée into what is now known as the Pictures generation, appearing alongside artists such as Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince in such era-defining exhibitions as 1989’s “Forest of Signs” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The Pictures artists seemed to share a vaguely melancholic understanding of modernism as a historical category and of contemporary art as a subset of the larger visual culture. And all recycled the most emblematically pared-down, abstract forms

  • Steven Bankhead

    “Battery” (2008), Steven Bankhead’s last exhibition at Circus Gallery, comprised a series of medium-size charcoal renderings of collaged material that the artist had culled from billboards, posters, flyers, stickers, T-shirts, graffiti, and other ephemera. Much of the imagery was lifted from the rock milieu and testified to rock’s ongoing recycling of a lexicon of mythical symbols originating in avant-garde art (as described by cultural critics such as Stewart Home and Greil Marcus). A sense of historical unfolding was suggested in the emphatic numbering of the drawings on view: twenty-four in

  • My Barbarian

    My Barbarian, LA’s own all-singing, all-dancing, all-acting performance troupe (Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, Alexandro Segade), can be read as a gentle parody of alt-rock’s claims to ownership over experiential extremes, as per the band My Chemical Romance. But one might also consider how names follow other names; after all, could there be a (My) Chemical Romance without a (My) Drug Hell without a (My) Bloody Valentine? My Barbarian nods to all of these, while also suggesting rapprochement. The inversion of “the other,” via the personal pronoun, into something approaching “the same” is central to