Critics’ Picks

View of “Keith Walsh,” 2011.

Los Angeles

Keith Walsh

4634 Hollywood Blvd.
August 5–August 28

Fusing space travel with art practice might seem far-fetched, but it becomes more fathomable when outer space is defined as everything beyond the boundaries of a sleek handcrafted vessel that doubles as the artist’s studio. Parked at the center of Keith Walsh’s exhibition, this angular, jet-black craft-cum-studio, were it outfitted with an engine, would make the perfect ride for a postmodern Batman.

Walsh made the sculpture and then compacted his tall frame into its tiny upholstered interior for hours at a time over a period of several months, creating the collages and drawings displayed on the gallery walls. The collages—three abstracts, a text, and a standing figure that might have leapt from the cover of a dog-eared sci-fi paperback—are pieced together from dark-colored (primarily black) paper cutouts. Their angular shapes mirror those of the vehicle-sculpture, while eight hand-drawn pen-and-ink pieces document the artist’s experience inside it.

The text of the drawings has a kind of reverse logic, starting with the letters, which are not black ink on white paper but composed of the white space that remained after filling in the page around them. The text relays Walsh’s day-to-day experience, in words and phrases, with references both banal and contemplative. The commentary suggests time travel of a more prosaic form, casting shifting streams of thought and fleeting recognitions as unknown territory and the narrator as an everyman-explorer. In light of this, the vehicle is as much meditation chamber as studio or spacecraft, drawing psychological and teleological connections between astral travel, the artist’s journey, and a mystic’s path.