Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer

  • picks May 15, 2009

    Marc Camille Chaimowicz

    A draping brown curtain folds across a section of the gallery, turning the space into an intimate theater for Marc Camille Chaimowicz’s installation We Chose Our Words with Care, That Neon-Moonlit Evening; It Was as if We Were, Party to a Wonderful Alchemy, 1975/2008. Three pieces of printed ephemera––the 1975 invitation to the work’s original installation at AIR Gallery in London, an image of a fox in a forest, and a picture of a wooden bench––are pinned to the curtain while six triangular flaps cut in the fabric frame cropped views of the raised platform behind. The situation is reminiscent

  • Larry Johnson

    Known for his distinctively mischievous sense of humor as well as his incisive reconsideration of photography’s critical possibilities, Larry Johnson combines text, drawing, painting, graphic design, and animation within a photographic framework characterized by visual clarity, economy, and sharp focus.

    Known for his distinctively mischievous sense of humor as well as his incisive reconsideration of photography’s critical possibilities, Larry Johnson combines text, drawing, painting, graphic design, and animation within a photographic framework characterized by visual clarity, economy, and sharp focus. In Warholian fashion, Johnson often imbues his work with queer desire and dry melancholy as he mines lowbrow registers of American culture, resituating material drawn from such sources as People magazine, pulp fiction, celebrity auto-biographies, Hollywood histories,

  • picks April 22, 2009

    Henry Taylor

    Refreshingly, Henry Taylor’s current show—crammed with painted works and assemblage sculptures of all shapes and sizes, all made between 1997 and the present—feels neither like a painting show nor an installation environment, though it functions as both. With a raw plywood couch, several chairs, and a makeshift coffee table resting on plastic crates anchoring the center of the gallery, the exhibition suggests the warmth and worn familiarity of a lived-in space, cluttered with evidence of heavy use: Ashtrays, a drinking glass left with the red dregs of old wine, incomplete scrawlings on the walls

  • picks April 03, 2009

    Anthony Burdin

    Anthony Burdin continues to have a fuck-you attitude, refusing to explain himself or his work in favor of an oblique self-made mythos. He calls himself a “recording artist” and has lived in his 1973 Chevy Nova for several years, under a carefully guarded shroud of mystery. His underground nomadism, strident convictions, and extreme behavior have fueled his near-mythic reputation, while attracting a cult following that seems captivated by his destructive and fierce, if dysfunctional, assertions of autonomy. His reclusiveness titillates our romance with hyperbolic and unconventional ways of being.

  • Dave Hullfish Bailey

    Dave Hullfish Bailey’s latest exhibition looked like a backyard science experiment. Jury-rigged workstations loosely structured the space into three separate areas: one for reading and informational display, another with small science-fair-type geological experiments in water flow and delta formation, and a third in which seedlings of the desert paloverde tree grew beneath fluorescent bulbs. Pieces of raw lumber, plastic ties, extension cords, clamps, pipes, motors, buckets, coffee cans, milk crates, Legos, Xeroxes, old books, saw horses, and a ladder lying on its side made up Bailey’s utilitarian

  • picks January 24, 2009

    Maaike Schoorel

    The images in Maaike Schoorel’s paintings are barely there. The seven white and off-white canvases in this exhibition offer an initial impression of blankness and luminosity; they demand protracted patience and slowed-down perception to discern the imagery that is hinted at in each piece. Reminiscent of Rauschenberg’s monochromatic “White Paintings,” Schoorel’s surfaces are particularly sensitive to changes in ambient light and shadows cast by the viewer’s passing body. What looks like a predominance of pallor matures into an array of subtly tinted off-whites slightly differentiating each painting

  • “Nine Lives: Visionary Artists from LA”

    For the Hammer Museum’s fifth biannual invitational, Ali Subotnick surveys more than one hundred works made since 1960 and sprung from the minds of nine local artists, including Llyn Foulkes, Jeffrey Vallance, and Charlie White.

    With its vast open spaces and endless freeways that make for hours spent in cars, Los Angeles provides the mental breathing room to obsess over obscure fascinations and to construct elaborate private fictions. For the Hammer Museum’s fifth biannual invitational, Ali Subotnick surveys this psychic terrain, presenting more than one hundred works made since 1960 and sprung from the minds of nine local artists, including Llyn Foulkes, Jeffrey Vallance, and Charlie White. The exhibition’s accompanying catalogue reprints William Faulkner’s short story “Golden Land,” which

  • Martin Kersels

    Standing six and a half feet tall and weighing around 350 pounds, Martin Kersels is a big guy. “I don’t fit in a lot of places, literally and figuratively,” he says in an interview published in the catalogue for his first midcareer retrospective, aptly subtitled “Heavyweight Champion.” The conspicuousness of his oversize person and the awkwardness of not fitting in are the generative conditions of his practice, as seen in the show’s thirty-three works, spanning 1994 to 2007. (Newer works were concurrently on view at ACME gallery.) Kersels employs a range of media, from sculpture and photography

  • picks November 25, 2008

    Tom Wesselmann

    Although his peers from the 1960s often overshadow Tom Wesselmann, his Pop vision of Americana offers its own lewd thrills and exuberance. Spanning his career, this impressive mini-retrospective of thirty-three paintings, works on paper, and sculptures is culled from several series, including “Great American Nude” and “Smokers Studies.” The ecstatic hero of the tan line, he marks his figures distinctively with the pale shadow a bikini leaves on a suntanned woman and constructs his own permanent summer full of all-American beauties and beach bunnies. The tan lines’ silhouetted approximation of

  • picks November 16, 2008

    Morgan Fisher

    Last year, Morgan Fisher installed six monochrome paintings representing the color wheel’s three complementary pairs bluntly facing one another on parallel walls at Galerie Daniel Bucholz in Cologne. Positioning them in an art-historical lineage associated with portraiture, he called them pendant pairs, a coupling notion he continues to experiment with and expand on in the series’s current Los Angeles manifestation, Alien Pendant Pair Paintings, 2008. Again premised on the color wheel, this new set of six square monochromes (each forty-eight by forty-eight inches) renders the complements

  • Stephen Vitiello

    An acoustic aviary of electronic squawks, chirps, and beating wings. A choir of insects signaling polyphonically in the dark. The clicking of frogs. Suction slaps. Aerosol sprays. Sustained static drones periodically spliced by jarring pops. These sounds circulated in and among the three collaborative works in Stephen Vitiello’s exhibition “Duets.” Charged with the conversational dynamics of exchange, each “duet” pairs Vitiello’s multichannel sonic creations with a visual artist’s work. Crazy Wall Thing, 2005, for example, is a playful, if expendable, collaboration with Tony Oursler in which

  • Gillian Wearing

    A self-described “couch potato” in her youth, Gillian Wearing assimilates television’s vernacular into her videos and photographic projects. She tracks the ways in which the medium’s representations of reality transform our popular imagination and identity formation. Shown concurrently at Regen Projects, Wearing’s video installation Family History, 2006, and painting series “Pin-Ups,” 2008–, draw on the genres and narratives of contemporary television (so-called reality TV, talk shows, make-over documentaries) in an examination of today’s media-saturated culture, where fame, celebrity, desire,

  • picks September 29, 2008

    Stephen Kaltenbach

    In the summer of 1969, Conceptual artist Stephen Kaltenbach took out a three-word advertisement in Artforum that stated BECOME A LEGEND. It was a tersely provocative directive he was already pursuing and would go some ways toward achieving by abruptly leaving the New York art world the following year, curtailing his inventive presence in the city after only three years. His relish for cultivating a sense of mystique and mythology around his practice is felt strongly in the more than twenty-five time capsules on view in this exhibition, the majority of which are shown here for the first time.

  • “2008 California Biennial”

    This year’s California Biennial is more expansive, far-reaching, and ambitious than ever before. The show features works by about fifty artists and collaboratives as well as, for the first time, numerous off-site artists’ projects and performances staged at venues in a wide range of West Coast locales.

    Organized by guest curator Lauri Firstenberg, founder and director of LAXART in Los Angeles, this year’s California Biennial is more expansive, far-reaching, and ambitious than ever before. The show features works by about fifty artists and collaboratives as well as, for the first time, numerous off-site artists’ projects and performances staged at venues in a wide range of West Coast locales, from Tijuana to San Francisco. Employing a popular biennial strategy, Firstenberg pairs influential and established figures (often artist-teachers in regional art schools), from

  • Scott Olson

    Scott Olson paints small abstractions of irregular and fragmented geometries that give a somewhat unexpected initial impression of familiarity, age, and wear. The eleven oil paintings (on linen or MDF) that made up his Los Angeles debut employ distinctly traditional techniques from a century past and refer to the pictorial methods of early modernist abstraction; they repeatedly conjure, in their compositions and reduced size, the modest quietude of works by Paul Klee. They are heavy with an indefinite, though palpable, sense of history, as though they have been unearthed or rediscovered after

  • picks July 21, 2008

    “Against the Grain”

    Responding in 1988 to the deep loss, widespread fear, oppressive sociopolitical conservatism, and aggressive culture of activism that characterized the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, writer Dennis Cooper and artist Richard Hawkins curated “Against Nature: A Group Show of Works by Homosexual Men” at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE). As a controversial gesture of defiance, it posited a model of individual agency based on an irreverence for societal norms and moral standards, paired with a decadent embodiment of sexual desires, addictions, anxieties, and illness. Provoking much criticism and

  • film July 01, 2008

    Skim Flick

    LAWRENCE WEINER WAS apparently pulled out of adult-filmmaking retirement to make the new skin flick Water in Milk Exists. I can’t imagine he would have needed all that much coaxing from Swiss Institute director Gianni Jetzer and photographer Noritoshi Hirakawa (the movie’s producer), who both instigated the project. After all, this nonnarrative porn is full of twenty-somethings fucking, sucking, playing, and masturbating in the Swiss Institute’s SoHo loft and a Chinatown photo studio. Scenes alternate between often-thrilling hardcore porn and contrived and tedious philosophical musings about “

  • picks June 04, 2008

    Margie Schnibbe

    Artist Margie Schnibbe is more widely known to her audiences as Vena Virago, alt-porn director of skin flicks with a critical edge such as Eastside Story (2007) and Silverlake Scenesters (2006), the latter of which includes the mockumentary segment “Nietzsche Bangers” (“inspired by the texts of Friederich Nietzsche”). Schnibbe and Virago meet where art and pornography inform and comment on each other, fertile ground where Vito Acconci, Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Bruce LaBruce, and others have come before. A 1998 graduate of CalArts, Schnibbe insists on pornography as political performance and

  • picks April 29, 2008

    Mel Bochner

    Language is its own catalyst, provoking and (re)producing itself in Mel Bochner’s new “Thesaurus” paintings. In these canvases, words trigger a litany of synonyms, painted in hand-scripted white capitals over large gestural AbEx fields of muted grays, browns, and dirty whites. Continuing a career-long fascination with rhetorical inventories established by his 1960s “word portraits,” each of the “Thesaurus” paintings on view takes a common word as the starting point from which numerous repetitions and variations extend in rows. The synonyms become progressively more colloquial, funny, and vulgar

  • picks April 07, 2008

    Thomas Hirschhorn

    Thomas Hirschhorn’s current exhibition, “Poor Tuning,” presents ten pimped-out race cars parked, as though after a contest, in two symmetric rows angled toward each other. Multicolored bunting crisscrosses the ceiling and runs out through the space’s open garage door, creating a celebratory and welcoming carnivalesque air. Bought locally and used, the cars have been retrofitted, in Hirschhorn’s signature fashion, with cheap materials and recyclables. Like the DIY work of a die-hard car enthusiast on a tight budget, the makeshift race cars are hyperbolically and lovingly tricked out. Covered with