Critics’ Picks

Ecóle Samourai, 2005.

Los Angeles

Rostarr

Kinsey/DesForges
6009 Washington Boulevard
March 18–April 22

Like an ersatz entertainment mogul, Rostarr (Romon Yang) has injected his graphic vision into everything from Nike advertisements to the rural murals of the Barnstormers graffiti crew. His current solo show, titled “Neospectives,” departs from this rubric of collective design (whether commodified, renegade, or both) for a series of experiments in sumi ink, acrylic, and even ballpoint pen. Unlike peers Ryan McGinness or Dave Kinsey, Rostarr’s new work veers into the gestural and abstract—a kind of late Pollock (think of the painter’s black duco enamel on raw canvas) for the skateboarding set. Fittingly, the show’s best works confound the difference between line and plane, drawing and printing. They navigate the die-cut precision of graphic icons and the loping facture of the graffiti writer. In the “Percussive Movement” series, 2005, multiple parallel lines coil into shapes that suggest a logo’s scalability—readable at any size. But these configurations also introduce pockets of perspectival depth, where linear marks become planar facets. Such strange massing of “flatness” and “texture” produces an irregular topography (heightened by the alternately matte and glossy sumi ink) that threatens to spread and take over the page. Sometimes these patterns cohere into faces or heads, as in Crown Tiger Roët, 2005, but they always give way to arabesque and obsessive ornament. The intimate drawings also explode into full-size wall murals and tapestries, converting hard edges into the soft splatter of spray paint or the weft of hand-knotted wool. Rostarr becomes the unlikely arbiter of Greenberg’s worst nightmare: Both graffiti and commercial design (read: decoration) have become such developed enterprises that they swallow abstraction whole.