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.