Critics’ Picks

View of “Matt Chambers: 2 of Six,” 2007.

Los Angeles

Matt Chambers

Angstrom Gallery
2622 South La Cienega Boulevard
June 2 - June 30

Trudi impresario Matt Chambers’s promising debut exhibition fills this space with an installation that’s equal parts messy skater crash pad, secret hideout, and whip-smart forest of cultural reference. Large drawings line the walls like cave paintings documenting the strange rituals of the Trudi gang; they are populated with nude women, lunatics in striped ties, and monsters with razor-sharp teeth. A divine messiness inhabits every available square inch.

Chambers has emptied his entire life into the show: The spray-painted carpet torn from his apartment’s floor stretches across the cold gallery concrete like the skinned hide of a postmodern beast, his entire wardrobe forms a tepee in one corner, and many documents he’s received—from thank-you cards to recommendation letters—lean, in five frames, against the back wall. Chambers marshals this hodgepodge as evidence of a made-up gang he calls Trudi, which functions in LA’s Chinatown as an art gallery the size of a telephone booth. The Trudi gang, a collective of one, functions like Frank O’Hara’s Personism with a skateboard, writing endless love letters to mentors never met. Crass, Lawrence Weiner, the Bernadette Corporation, Bas Jan Ader, On Kawara, and Jean-Michel Basquiat all feature in Chambers’s cosmogony, and the ubiquitous pop icon Andy Warhol makes a cameo by name. The layout of one drawing mimics the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, except the bass drum reads WARHOL'S THUGGISH CHILDREN (perhaps a covert reference to the recent New York article on Dan Colen, Terence Koh, and Ryan McGinley). Whether it’s a declaration of self or an indictment of the world Warhol shaped, one can’t be sure; I lean more toward the latter. Even though the disorderly spread echoes the pop machismo of Colen or Aaron Rose’s “Beautiful Losers,” Chambers seems to possess, amid all the detritus, a highly sensitive and passionate temperament that counters the others’ superficial chic.