Critics’ Picks

Keith Critchlow, The Bearers of the Throne, 2010, mixed media, 16 x 16".

Keith Critchlow, The Bearers of the Throne, 2010, mixed media, 16 x 16".

Los Angeles

“In Search of the Dot That Created the Circle”

CB1 Gallery
1923 S. Santa Fe Avenue
January 24–February 28, 2015

In “Under the Gaze of Theory,” an essay published on e-flux that tracks the relationship between art and theory, Boris Groys suggests one possible explanation for a notable absence of the spiritual in contemporary art: “Philosophy privileges contemplation. Theory privileges action and practice—and hates passivity.” Recent news from Paris and Copenhagen tragically demonstrates that images about religion, particularly Islam, incite anything but passivity. But art genuinely rooted in religion or spirituality still struggles to find its place in contemporary culture. Into this dichotomous context enters an exhibition featuring geometric abstractions made primarily with organic materials—tea, gold powder, graphite, wood, and natural pigments—by artists who are also teachers and alumni of the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London. Depicting shapes in expanding patterns—most are symmetrical and emanate from a central point—the paintings and drawings are as visually similar to Tibetan mandalas and Indian yantras as to flowers in bloom and cells under a microscope, demonstrating the universality of the principles they seek to embody. The bright blues and greens traced in gold lines in an untitled 1989 work by Keith Critchlow seem to float on the page like a planet in space. Sama Mara and Lee Westwood’s video and digital print and video depict multiple concentric patterns in ever-evolving rotation. Though each work is unique, the overall effect mirrors that of a Sol LeWitt drawing, a contemplative experience of what we have in common and of the distinctions that define us.