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“Blackout”

Ibid Gallery | Los Angeles
670 S Anderson Street
April 22, 2017–July 8, 2017

Richard Hamilton, Patricia Knight II, 1982, etching on paper, 15 x 11".

Collages can be construed as a mode of time travel, as they are made from bits of material or images, usually culled from everyday life, that are put into adjacency. Those who seek to interpret collages not only keep in mind the effects a particular work might have on a viewer (surreal and uncanny are old sawhorses) but also that they must record the respective histories of the individual pieces of the whole, relaying how images and text can be repurposed, retooled, and resignified. In this way the technique has been proposed as a thoroughly modern or postmodern (pick your poison) media. It might also describe a particular kind of curatorial approach—this seems to be true of “Blackout,” which brings together three artists from three different generations who are handily more dissimilar than they are alike: Carlo Mollino, Richard Hamilton, and John Stezaker.

Hamilton’s prints look a lot like collages, while Stezaker’s works live and die by the success of their optical effects, with Shades, 2016, as an example of the artist in top form. Hamilton’s aquatints, Patricia Knight I and II, both 1982, feature the actress standing in bare, simply rendered interiors. Disarticulated from their original context—a photographic still from the Douglas Sirk–directed noir Shockproof (1949) in which Knight stands in the middle of a room, the dead body of a man at her feet—the images of the actress dodge the generic conventions of his source material, just as the etching process likewise removes some of the specificity of her facial expression. Here may very well be the blackout of the show’s title, at once a suturing of time and an elision of historical memory.

Andy Campbell