Travis Diehl

  • picks February 02, 2012

    “Out-of- . . . . . . . . . ”

    In a midnight-blue room at the back of this gallery hangs a lonesome work (Untitled [XIX L], 2007) by James Turrell: a small reflective hologram of two polygons, joined along one edge, though both are never visible at once. Light from the doorway bounces off the piece and casts a trapezoid onto the floor, which is flecked with glitter. “Out-of- . . . . . . . . . ,” curated by Leila Khastoo, is so multifaceted, so compressed, that even in this inner sanctum, the eye darts between dozens of glinting surfaces.

    Crammed facing the entrance are fifteen monitors of various sizes, fed by tangles of

  • JEQU

    Like a good tagline, the final phrase of the wriggling, poetic manifesto accompanying “BLEU,” the latest exhibition by JEQU (curator Howie Chen and artist/attorney Jason Kakoyiannis), cut earnestness with cool illegibility: “It’s about a feeling,” they wrote—and yet, the mundane components of the show amounted to nothing if not an airy intellectual impression. The installation BLEU, 2011, consisted of three “sensorial arrangements” corresponding to the top, middle, and base notes of the men’s fragrance Bleu de Chanel, displayed in sequence for six days each. The cologne had been resynthesized

  • picks November 23, 2011

    Marina Pinsky

    Photographer Marina Pinsky assembles her still lifes from broken-down and rarefied formal components of life in Los Angeles: construction materials, food, and light. Her latest pieces (all untitled and from 2011) are lit from a low angle, bathed in a contrasty glow reminiscent of Southern California in late afternoon. In one image, a pair of mason jars, one half full of raw rice and the other of cooked rice, perch on two blocks of lumber. Below, two slices of toast rest near a glass of water and a plaster mold of what appears to be the heels of a loaf of bread. These items could be a cheap

  • picks September 26, 2011

    Frank Benson

    An image of a quarry on Overduin and Kite’s website announces Frank Benson’s current exhibition. In the artist’s arrangement of absences, there is only the suggestion of stone. The show contains two works: a photograph of a glass apple, Untitled (Apple), 2010, which is hung over a couch in the office, and Human Statue (Jessie), 2011, a bronze statue of a woman, isolated in the center of a gallery. Three other editions of the sculpture are on view at Taxter and Spengemann in New York, the São Paulo Bienal, and Hydra Workshop in Greece.

    The sculpture lures the visitor through three-dimensional

  • picks June 30, 2011

    Sayre Gomez and J. Patrick Walsh III

    Like the bare frame of a building, the angular name of Zzyzx, California, serves as a kind of linguistic scaffold for this exhibition. A mixture of sculpture, painting, collage, and video articulates a loose imaginary corollary to the town at the end of the alphabet through a series of correspondences that are formally clear yet logically tenuous and, ultimately, charged with unnamed fears. Sayre Gomez’s use of bold primary colors and J. Patrick Walsh III’s muddled yet ecstatic palette provide easy links between the individual pieces. For example, a chunk of sunny yellow foam beneath the

  • picks May 04, 2011

    Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle

    As our eyes adjust, what emerges from the reddish gloom is a truck trailer, or the shell or shade of one, loaded with unmarked consoles, vague equipment, featureless tanks. Bisecting the room diagonally, Phantom Truck, 2007, is a glossy gray manifestation of a Platonic form: an Iraqi mobile biological weapons lab like the one described by Colin Powell in his 2003 case for invasion. Here, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle has produced what the United States military could not. As the shape becomes visible—a spectral fiction, a phantom image, here more real than ever—its appearance is followed by the realization

  • picks April 26, 2011

    Mari Eastman

    Mari Eastman’s candelabras, fashioned to look like owls and deer and presented on unfinished wooden plinths, start to propose some connectedness to ritual, simple usefulness, and ancient wisdom; yet this elusive meaning soon skitters into the trees. The candleholder is only—emphatically only—an object: one more owl statuette at one more vintage store, one more vague New Age annexation. In her paintings, too, which are installed at various heights around the gallery’s walls, loose correspondences of depleted references seem to chatter across the room. Tina on Her Birthday, 2010, is a coarse

  • picks February 24, 2011

    James Benning

    The flushed face of a woman, closely cropped, fills the whole wall. Her lips slowly blur and part as one frame melts into the next. Her teeth glint and then darken; a speck of dust on her cheek fades in and out; her lips close. This takes twelve and a half minutes. A quick cut, and now the creviced and oily features of a man’s face morph with the same aching slowness. His movements are especially subtle and eerie, like shadows lengthening.

    In James Benning’s Two Faces, 2010, the centerpiece of this exhibition, two three-second portraits shot in 16 mm have been digitally scanned, then stretched

  • picks February 06, 2011

    Kate Johnson and Siri Kaur

    At once minute and cosmic, the spacey photographic investigations in this exhibition play with both scale and trajectory, exerting a subtle push-pull on the viewer’s vision. The artists practice the chemistry-and-glass wonderment of early photography, perhaps all the more poignantly for having learned the lessons of Hubble, Google, and Adobe.

    For the series “More Than or Equal To,” 2010, Kate Johnson enclosed her camera in small mirrored fun houses, producing images of kaleidoscopic infinities. Yet visible on almost every pane is the black spot of the camera’s aperture, impounding light and

  • picks January 04, 2011

    “Bedtime for Bonzo”

    A DeLorean, gull-wing doors ajar, sits on the rack at the mechanic’s. Its vintage California license plate insists: NOW. Yet the image (Matthew Brandt’s Aluminum, 2008—a LightJet print mounted on aluminum, no less) has the unmistakable dull sheen of an already obsolete future.

    Curated by artist Matthew Porter, this tightly packed group show takes its name from the didactic 1951 film starring Ronald Reagan. Porter’s selections bring to mind another reference point: “Ronald Reagan and the Conceptual Auto Disaster,” a subheading in J. G. Ballard’s 1968 pamphlet “Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan.”

  • picks November 24, 2010

    Ciprian Mureşan

    Persecuted by a phantasmagorical fascism, the protagonist of Elias Canetti’s 1935 postutopian novel Die Blendung (literally “The Blinding,” published in English as Auto-da-fé) feverishly addresses his library, marshaling his books for war. For the artwork Auto-da-fé, 2008, the centerpiece of Ciprian Mureşan’s second solo show in the US, the artist graffitied this monologue throughout urban Romania—broken into slogans such as A CRIME HAS BEEN COMMITTED AGAINST YOU and MY PEOPLE! and simply, NO. The artist photographed these sites and then reconstituted the images in a mural-size grid that bridges

  • picks November 24, 2010

    Edgar Arceneaux

    Can cities, like molecules, be reduced to elemental wholes? Is there hope, for example, in regrowing Detroit from certain purified ingredients: clay, charcoal, sugar? Edgar Arceneaux grounds his latest series of paintings and sculptures in the economically and racially troubled city. Witty, saccharine, and unsettling, his exhibition distorts well-worn notions of evolution in society, humankind, and art (shades of Smithson and Morris), consistently blocking its own exit without ever seeming trapped.

    A visitor to the exhibition steps first into The Crystal Palace (all works 2010), a ring of industrial