Critics’ Picks

Matthew Day Jackson, The Pitfalls of Utopian Desire, 2006, charcoal on paper, Plexiglas spectrum over laminated magazine pages. Installation view.

Los Angeles


Perry Rubenstein Gallery
1215 N. Highland Avenue
January 9–February 10

John Baldessari once noted: “What I leave out is more important. I want that absence, which creates a kind of anxiety.” This remark inspired “Omission,” a group show that examines aesthetic strategies of elision through six works that each erase or obscure some piece of identifying content, forcing the spectator to mentally fill in compositional gaps. Mike Kelley’s work takes as its material the magazine Sex to Sexty, substituting gray or colored panels for issues missing from his personal collection. Placing both the original copies and their monochromatic proxies behind two separate Plexiglas grids, Kelley juxtaposes Minimalist abstraction with manic, cartoonish pornography. Echoing Kelley’s colorful grids, Matthew Day Jackson printed and framed each individual page of a Time article on the Jonestown “Cult of Death” and then covered the text with a rainbow of semitransparent gels. Hung above the article’s pages are three original posters detailing a Conestoga Wagon, over which Jackson drew and labeled the wagon’s parts in charcoal. Jackson’s doomsday politics complements Adam Helms’s 8 Untitled Portraits, 2006, textured ink silhouettes of headgear worn by victims and perpetrators of violence. William Wegmen’s Family Combinations, 1972, also examines visual identification, superimposing images of the artist and his parents until a blurred family resemblance emerges. Baldessari’s contribution, ten photographs of sitters whose faces are obscured by a sign reading JOHN 8 AP. 74, constructs a series from the individual, putting into effect his conceptual technique.