Critics’ Picks

View of “Genesis.” Foreground: Everything Doesn't Not Have an Opposite, 2008. Background: The Origin of the World Wallpaper (G42), 2007.

Los Angeles

David Brady

High Energy Constructs
3201 Hamilton Way #4
February 2–March 8

At first glance, the two works exhibited here from David Brady’s series “Studies for the Movement of Air,” 2008, seem to possess nearly uniform grisaille surfaces bordered by white paper. Initially suggestive of Vija Celmins’s finely rendered drawings, Brady’s pieces quickly reveal themselves to be the results of a different process altogether: The artist attacked the sheets of paper with a charcoal-loaded sandblaster, thus recording the movement of air and capturing ephemeral moments of natural phenomena. Although most of the exhibited works were made with the help of machines, the works—which comprise a diverse range of media, including press-on nails, Bondo putty, wallpaper, and bulletproof glass—are often strange, poetic, and fragile in the most human way.

Brady is not originally from Los Angeles, where he is currently based, but his pataphysical investigations and experiments share certain qualities with work by quintessential LA artists, among them the perpetual tinkering of Tim Hawkinson and the Light and Space elegance of Robert Irwin. But Brady’s tactics prove more sinister than those of either predecessor. Leaning against the gallery’s back wall is Everything Doesn’t Not Have an Opposite, 2008: a handmade coffin lid painted white, whose smooth surface and curving lines bring about an awareness of the material accoutrements of death. On the opposite side of the gallery lean six sheets of bulletproof glass bound together in a black metal frame. The smoky black glass is just barely translucent—a reflective veneered surface as suggestive of violence as the coffin lid is of death.

Though origins, exits, and passages recur throughout Brady's work, they are nowhere more quietly transgressive than in The Origin of the World Wallpaper (G42), 2007, an installation of four rolls of wallpaper custom-designed with the eponymous painting by Gustave Courbet in mind. Comprising digitally manipulated Internet porn images, the patterns make great use of what, to Courbet, was the “origin.” As with much of Brady’s work, the actual subject here is not immediately apparent, but it soon becomes as obvious and physical as it is in Courbet’s painting.