Critics’ Picks

View of “Jennie Jieun Lee: Seizure Cravasse,” 2017. From left: Untitled, 2017; Public Transportation, 2017; Silent Activism, 2017.

Los Angeles

Jennie Jieun Lee

The Pit
918 Ruberta Avenue
March 12–April 23, 2017

By building a wooden catwalk, a vantage raised a couple feet from the gallery’s floor, Jennie Jieun Lee has transformed her solo exhibition of large-scale ceramic works into a total installation. The reclaimed wood out of which this architectural intervention was made, with both unpainted and whitewashed boards, serves to bring together standing sculptures such as Silent Activism and Adeline Boone, both 2017, as well as slab-rolled wall reliefs such as Public Transportation, 2017, while also exaggerating the gallery’s most prominent feature—a steep, grave-like concrete pit, vital to the space’s former life as an auto-mechanic shop. The artist exploits this to dramatic effect, placing two bust-like sculptures, Queen, 2017, and The Witch, 2016, on the edge and at the bottom of the pit, respectively. Hung ceremoniously on the wall over the drop is Untitled, 2017, a wall relief that conjures up a gnarly shield, or a wild cross between a weathered tortoise shell and the underside of an upholstered chair.

The installation supplies a path of circulation, and each work provides a viewer with plenty to see. Lee’s ceramics are so viscerally present that it can be difficult to remember that a history of the medium underlies their form, from Peter Voulkos’s cracked and dissembled vessels to the tippy geometry of Alison Britton’s pots. For her part, Lee piles on layers of glaze, sometimes letting delicately drawn lines peek through. The cracks and gaps across the large pillar-like pieces mark places that could cause them to collapse. Importantly, none of the works have done so, suggesting that resilience is something discovered under great strain.