Jan Tumlir

  • Robert Overby

    In 1969, after more than a decade of commercial design work, Robert Overby decided to become a full-time artist. The oft-cited turning point was an assignment to procure an art collection for the corporate offices of CBS. Working with a relatively tight budget, Overby came through with a remarkably rich and diverse body of work that ran the gamut of fine and applied art and included everything from a Picasso bookplate to a circuit board courtesy of Lockheed Electronics. And, famously, he cut corners in the original-painting department by making a few of them himself. There is no doubt that with

  • Mindy Shapero

    Mindy Shapero’s image-objects would seem to fit snugly into a West Coast tradition that stretches from John McCracken to Liz Larner; but Shapero, though a recent alumna of the USC graduate program, is a recent transplant from New York, and on closer inspection her work bears as little resemblance to the concerns of this particular region as to those delimiting the more general parameters of contemporary art.

    Starting with the smallest constituent parts, Shapero builds her paper works steadily outward by a process of incremental accretion. Some remain modestly scaled, while others rise up on stilts

  • Judy Fiskin

    Once characterized as a Los Angeles variant on a German photographic tradition that now stretches from August Sander to Andreas Gursky, the work Judy Fiskin made between the ’70s and the mid-’90s is a body of sleekly reductive typologies of different West Coast vernaculars. Always working serially, she has tried her hand at all genres, from landscapes (“Desert Photographs,” 1976) to architectural exteriors (“Dingbat,” 1982–83) to interiors and still lifes (“Some Aesthetic Decisions,” 1984, and “Some Art,” 1989–91). The strict regularity, sharply graphic “look,” diminutive scale, and tabletlike

  • Top: Matmos, Work, Work, Work, 2003. Performance view (Drew Daniel at center), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, 2003.

    Jan Tumlir on Matmos

    WERE IT NOT FOR the sleeper success of their previous album, A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure (2001), Matmos would no doubt have remained stuck in the sort of respectable semi-obscurity that swallows most contemporary electronic outfits or, for that matter, “electroacoustic” ones, to grant the duo a somewhat more appropriate historical pedigree. This acutely “oedipal” work, as core members M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel describe it, samples the sounds of cosmetic surgery as its subject matter. “It’s like playing dress-up, trying to be like dad,” says Schmidt, alluding to the fact that both

  • Jorge Pardo

    In his first exhibition at this gallery, Jorge Pardo could be said to “deliver” without ever ceasing to hold back. First, there is the requisite upping of the ante, perfectly in keeping with the heightened expectations that come with this new territory, and then there is a deflation, also requisite. Pardo gives us a great deal to work with—perhaps too much—but pointedly leaves out the directions. Accordingly, the questions of what we should focus our attention on, how we should distinguish the fore-, middle-, and background, and where in the ensuing melee we stand are raised at every turn.


  • Sharon Lockhart

    In her inaugural exhibition at this thoroughly expanded gallery, Sharon Lockhart presented a group of distinct yet interrelated works: two sets of large-scale color photographs involving the hyperrealist sculpture of Duane Hanson, a body of smaller images involving brussels sprouts, and a 16 mm film, the latter two inspired by the Japanese art/philosophy of flower arranging.

    The film, NO, 2003, records from a fixed vantage point the gracefully orchestrated activities of husband and wife farmers at the close of the harvest season in Japan. Tidy piles of mulch, arranged one next to the other with

  • Jack Goldstein

    Although Monday is apparently the favored day for suicide, Jack Goldstein did himself in on a Friday—not after the weekend, but just before. Grim observations aside, one can’t help but read into this an analogy to his career, which, following an almost decade-long decline, was about to peak again. In 2001, a survey of the artist’s early films in Stuttgart and at his gallery in Los Angeles, as well as the rehanging of Douglas Crimp’s epochal “Pictures” exhibition at Artists Space, New York, promised a return to form. The following year ushered in a retrospective and several more survey

  • Tom Allen

    At first glance, Tom Allen’s paintings are almost too familiar—countless Romantic revivals and the continual return of representation have prepared us for these pseudo-Germanic pictures. Even as the artist hones his technique from one show to the next, a tendency to flaunt “bad taste,” or the kitsch factor, is still in evidence. But look more closely: This is neither another parody of Caspar David nor an homage.

    First, Allen’s resurrection is accomplished in a manner that might be termed site-specific: His proximity to the Hollywood dream machine and Disneyland makes all the difference. In

  • John Divola

    Early in his career, John Divola gained public recognition with a series of photographs titled “Zuma,” 1978–79, a set of interior views of an old beachfront property with a single, central window opening onto the Pacific, like a picture within a picture. In a highly picturesque manner, Divola recorded the house’s gradual destruction at the hands of local vandals, occasionally joining his own mark to theirs, thereby bringing into question the documentary status of the undertaking. Throughout it all, the ocean remains gloriously indifferent. In this project, all the components of his practice were


    In April, I met Jennifer Pastor at Carlson & Co., a high-end fabrication facility in the San Fernando Valley where, with a crew of technical assistants, she was putting the finishing touches on a large sculpture titled The Perfect Ride, 2003—an incredibly odd yet credible translation of a dam, which would soon be shipped to the Venice Biennale for its debut. Morphing between a sort of sci-fi behemoth and fantastic hot rod, the work comprised everything from sections of surrounding hillside to a river, with the baroque convolutions of an elegant water-circulation system begging for scrupulous

  • James Welling

    JAN TUMLIR: You locate the ’80s between 1977 and 1984. Seventy-seven is year zero for punk rock, and for you the music scene was a large part of the collaborative and interdisciplinary network that made up the East Village at the time. It is interesting because a certain clichéd idea of the ’80s has developed in recent years that tends to overlook all this openness and experiment.

    JAMES WELLING: I remember making periodic visits from LA to New York to see a lot of my CalArts friends who had already moved there. In 1978, I saw Paul McMahon’s band play; they were called Daily Life and included


    The lore of Western realism is full of blunders, a slapstick succession of mistakes and misinterpretations that connect the prisoners of Plato’s cave to contemporary office workers peering into their desktop monitors as though out the window. The eyes are “fooled” by representations, whether painterly, photographic, or digital—none has an intrinsically greater purchase on the stuff of this world than does any other, as Brad Spence knows only too well.

    Spence has tried his hand at all the above media, and others besides, with consistently laudable results. He is skilled in the mimetic crafts, yet