Critics’ Picks

Both works: Brian Kennon, Untitled, 2007.

Los Angeles

“Gaping Hole Found in Universe”

Mesler&Hug
510 Bernard Street
February 20 - March 15

Last August, astronomers at the University of Minnesota announced they had found an enormous hole in our universe that spans a billion light years and is devoid of all cosmic material, including gases, stars, galaxies, even the “dark” (or unseen) matter that supposedly makes up the majority of the cosmos. Liliya L. R. Williams, an associate astronomy professor at the university, said of the finding: “What we’ve found is not normal, based on either observational studies or on computer simulations of the large-scale evolution of the universe.” Enter “Gaping Hole Found in Universe,” an exhibition of work by artists Darren Bader, Hanna-Mari Blencke, Eduardo Consuegra, Brian Kennon, Michael Queenland, and Bobbi Woods, all of which involves found printed matter (posters, advertisements, archival photographs, and a paperback book) that has been ever-so-slightly altered in order to give it new fictional trajectories.

Kennon’s contribution to this pithy group show regarding contemplative thinking is two identical copies (both Untitled, 2007) of a black-and-white photograph of Frank Stella working on a large canvas circa 1964. Kennon’s framed prints hang on their side next to each other, flipped so that the bottoms of the pictures are parallel and in the center. Kennon’s gesture is profoundly basic, yet he effectively conveys his musings on reductive abstraction, flirts with institutional critique, and pays homage to Stella by reprinting, doubling, and employing rotational symmetry. Keen imagination is also found in a gesture by Bader. The artist has circled a passage in a paperback of Latin poet Martial’s epigrams (the modern version of which Martial is credited as having invented), tacked the open book directly onto the wall, and titled it Passage Read by Jane Goodall at Robin Williams’s Bris, 2008. Linking Martial, Goodall, and Williams is absurd, but so perhaps is the idea of a gaping hole in our universe. So often in contemporary art, these sorts of negligible conceptual acts come off as overweening, but the work collected here is visionary enough to be both skeptical and magical.