Jennifer King

  • Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Village and Elsewhere: Thai Villagers and Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith and Holofernes, 2011, ink-jet print, 28 3/4 × 38 3/4".

    Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

    Although long popular with curators on the international biennial circuit, Thai artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s work has only rarely been shown on this side of the globe. Expect her understated but compelling videos to be the showstoppers of her first North American retrospective. In preparation for this overview, SculptureCenter is restoring fifteen of her videos from 2001–13, which will be projected onto suspended glass panels. By filming unlikely juxtapositions of art and daily life—for example, the unself-conscious commentary of Thai farmers looking at Jean-François

  • Nick Aguayo, Untitled, 2014, acrylic and marble dust on canvas, 96 × 96".

    Nick Aguayo

    Nick Aguayo’s abstract paintings have a collage-like sensibility, as if created by placing cutout swatches of color on horizontal surfaces. This effect—one that brings to mind Leo Steinberg’s characterization of the flatbed picture plane as “a receptor surface on which objects are scattered”—is heightened by the autonomous nature of each individual form. Departing from the scumbled brushstrokes in some of Aguayo’s earlier paintings, the eight untitled canvases in the artist’s first solo exhibition at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects were notable for their shift toward cleanly

  • Taryn Simon, Switzerland, 2014, ink-jet prints in boxed mat and aluminum frame, 39 7/8 x 79 1/2". From the series “Birds of the West Indies,” 2013–14.

    Taryn Simon

    The birth of modern ornithology, according to historian Daniel Lewis, was marked by notable developments in three areas: classification, language, and accountability. The first can be traced directly to Darwin: Following the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species, it became practice not just to note affinities among groups of birds but to make fine distinctions between subspecies and to track their evolution over time. These emerging classification systems in turn made fresh demands on language, requiring the invention of new and precise terminologies. Finally, the arrival of such

  • Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Two Planets: Millet’s The Gleaners and the Thai Farmers, 2008, video, color, sound, 15 minutes. Production still. From the 2013 California-Pacific Triennial.

    2013 California-Pacific Triennial

    Curators of recurring contemporary survey exhibitions face a perpetual dilemma: How does one fend off biennial ennui? This was clearly the impetus for Dan Cameron’s retooling of the Orange County Museum of Art’s former California Biennial, which had been a state-bound overview with an emphasis on emerging artists. Working in a crowded field that now includes the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A.” biennial, as well as the J. Paul Getty Museum’s “Pacific Standard Time” initiative, Cameron carved out a new mandate for ocma, mounting a show that argues for California as a place embedded along the Pacific

  • Joyce Pensato, Santa Monica Mickey, 2013, charcoal and pastel on paper, 9' 1“ x 13' 2”.

    Joyce Pensato

    Joyce Pensato’s alliances with her cartoon subjects—icons such as Mickey, Batman, Felix the Cat, and Homer Simpson—recall the different stages we experience in our real-life relations with friends and romantic partners. Early on, there can be the awkwardness of becoming acquainted, or the obsession that accompanies a new crush. Then, as familiarity sets in, one learns every variation of the other person’s moods and expressions. In the best cases, we never grow bored with our closest companions, and they somehow continue to surprise us.

    In “I KILLED KENNY,” Pensato’s one-person show at

  • Iwan Baan, CCTV #3, 2011, digital C-print, 36 x 54".

    Iwan Baan

    Just who is the “we” in the title of Iwan Baan’s recent exhibition “The Way We Live”? I ask because, while the Dutch photographer’s stated intent is to frame our built environment as a thoroughly shared condition, his images of buildings (and, by extension, the people who interact with them), which document extreme ends of the socioeconomic spectrum, do not lend themselves to notions of collectivity. If there is, in fact, a shared experience indicated by Baan’s title, it’s only that the people in his photographs, and we as viewers, all live in a world of architecture under capitalism.

    In this

  • Norman Zammitt, Diagonal 1, 1979, acrylic on canvas board, 9 x 12".

    Norman Zammitt

    Here’s a telling anecdote about Norman Zammitt’s large-scale paintings: His monumental North Wall, 1977, which featured prominently in the J. Paul Getty Museum’s “Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950–1970,” was found displayed not on the walls but on the ceiling of its owners’ bedroom when it was tracked down by the show’s curators for their 2011–12 exhibition. The painting’s horizontal installation was ostensibly necessitated by its monumental size—eight by fourteen feet. But the decorative appeal of Zammitt’s big striped paintings (the very quality

  • View of “Tejpal Ajji,” 2012. From left: Hindi, 2009–11; Piano, 2010.

    Tejpal Ajji

    Remember Don Music, the Sesame Street character who would bang his head on the piano in frustration? As spontaneous musical actions go, there seems to be an appeal, at least among pint-size viewers, in using one’s head as a blunt instrument. In Tejpal Ajji’s video Piano, 2010, we see a grown-up version of that compulsion, except the impromptu action is replaced by a deliberately paced performance. The work begins with the camera focused on a grand piano in a dance studio. A muffled off-screen voice can be heard, and then Ajji comes into view, carried planklike by two men and a woman. Arriving

  • John Waters, Pet, 2009, color photograph, 18 x 24".

    John Waters

    Would John Waters’s artwork be any good if it wasn’t by John Waters? That’s a hard question to answer, because it’s nearly impossible to separate the experience of looking at his art (featuring such Waters-esque things as celebrities, bodily fluids, B movies, and tabloids) from what one knows of his work as a director, author, and public figure. So the question becomes, Are judgments about artistic quality beside the point when dealing with a subject whose very success lies in the exaltation of bad taste?

    I ask because many of the pieces featured in “Neurotic,” a sort of miniretrospective of

  • Jillian Conrad, Flag (detail), 2011, slide projector, opal shards in resin, Plexiglas, wood, brass clamp, dimensions variable.

    Jillian Conrad

    Had Stan Brakhage been a sculptor rather than a filmmaker, he might have made works like Jillian Conrad’s recent projection pieces on view this winter at Devin Borden Gallery. For Brakhage, film was essentially made up of the shadows cast by film stock as it passed in front of a projector’s light. As he described in his “Manifesto” of 1992, “each smudge a filmmaker puts upon filmstrip is interference with the flickering window-of-white.” Film, he declared, “is projective hubris-of-form interruptive of purest incandescence.”

    Conrad’s Flag (all works 2011), one of two projection works in “Splits,”

  • Dana Harper, Untitled, 2011, collage, 6 x 9".

    Dana Harper

    Artist Dana Harper is a preservationist at heart. Here in Texas, he is probably best known as the proprietor of Sengelmann Hall, an 1890s dance hall, saloon, and Biergarten in Schulenburg, Texas, that was shuttered for decades before Harper restored it in 2009. While the connection between a Texas dance hall and this artist’s recent body of collages may not be immediately apparent, both are the product of a similar compulsion: to save something on the brink of obsolescence.

    The collages, crafted out of black-and-white images excised from old magazines, tread a delicate line between inventiveness

  • John Sparagana, Untitled BTE #6: Afghanistan, American Soldier/Andy Warhol “Flowers” 1964, 2010, sliced and mixed ink-jet prints, oil pastel on paper, 59 5/8 x 44 1/8".

    John Sparagana

    At first it’s hard to get past the intricate method of slicing and assembling multiple sheets of paper (ink-jet prints, magazine pages) that goes into John Sparagana’s process. By this I mean that the wow factor—the impressiveness of the works’ labor-intensive craftsmanship and the compulsion to figure out how their matrices are constructed—initially detracts from the actual images. At Sparagana’s solo exhibition “Between the Eyes,” at Corbett vs. Dempsey, more than a few visitors could be overheard quizzing gallery staff about the artist’s techniques. His procedures are too complex