Critics’ Picks

View of “Richard Jackson, Franz Ackermann,” 2009. From left: Franz Ackermann, Your City Is Really Almost Mine, 2009; Franz Ackermann, Your Cities Are Almost Mine, 2009; Richard Jackson, The Kids’ Table, 2009.

Los Angeles

Richard Jackson, Franz Ackermann

Martha Otero
820 North Fairfax Avenue
February 21–May 2

The unlikely pairing of Richard Jackson and Franz Ackermann makes the two artists’ wildly divergent attitudes about painting become momentarily entangled. Jackson, who hasn’t had a hometown solo exhibition in seventeen years, uses paint in a way that recalls blood and guts or the slippery leavings of an abattoir. While art critics have quibbled over the supposed death of painting for years, Jackson has had its blood on his hands—or, metaphorically, at least, on the instruments he uses to pump and squeeze paint all over the gallery. In this installation, he offers a kid-size kitchen table with accoutrements of kiddy kitsch splattered in primary colors squirted from an elaborate contraption that hangs from the ceiling, flashing with neon and reminiscent of Jason Rhoades’s works that feature dangling wagon wheels. Jackson (along with Paul McCarthy) was one of Rhoades’s UCLA teachers; it’s likely that Jackson influenced Rhoades rather than the other way around. Ackermann, on the other hand, represents a return to painting infused with enough ideas, particularly Situationist psychogeography, to actually revive the medium. Long orange tentacles crawl and sprawl across the wall with the tender title Your Cities Are Almost Mine, 2009, as smaller drawings nearby appear to be the quarry of the tentacles. Such insatiable, city-consuming sprawl is only suitable for Los Angeles. Ackermann uses painting as a generative act, while for Jackson painting is a messy endgame, a means to reveal its multifarious possibilities.