Critics’ Picks

View of “Walid AlBeshti,” 2015.

View of “Walid AlBeshti,” 2015.

Los Angeles

Walead Beshty

Regen Projects
6750 Santa Monica Blvd
October 28–March 28, 2015

Those looking for clues in the polished press dispatch from Regen Projects learn only that “Walid AlBeshti—the transliteration of the artist’s name from Arabic into English—brings together paintings and sculptures.”

Maybe the UK-born, Los Angeles–based Walead Beshty hopes to lend his “distributed,” postconceptual practice shades of his own transnational history. As if this might offset the lack of such personal/political sparkle in the works themselves, whose wrenchingly specific titles exude their own kind of mock-religious, backhanded austerity. Shroud (ExxonMobil Mobil 1 0W-40 Synthetic Motor Oil/Castrol Limited Edge Syntec SAE 10W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil: August 14, 2013–August 13, 2014, Los Angeles, California), 2015, for one. Five canvas drop cloths, dappled with months of tears, tread marks, and motor-oil stains where the artist parked his cars have been stretched, hung on the wall, and noted on the checklist as “oil on canvas”: not Jesus in Turin, but Mercedes in LA. Five of the artist’s “copper surrogates,” giant, shining minimalist brackets that bear the handprints of all their anonymous handlers, have made the trip from Miami; here a set of five are propped into two crisp piles—each of which makes a lowbrow nod to the LA monogram of the Dodgers.

Beshty’s “AlBeshti” artworks—stunning, formal, yet covered in indexical smudges—tell a joke about what we might dryly call “art’s circulation in the global marketplace.” A joke, furthermore, in bad faith, made at the expense of those who would take these pieces as simply beautiful. As if there were any doubt, Beshty’s minimalist PR magnifies the fuck-you of a gallery show that might have been made by anyone yet bears the Beshty brand. As if the artist could give up his most saleable property, his name, in favor of a more authentic, more personal translation, but hasn’t.