Critics’ Picks

Elliott Hundley, Untitled, 2006.

Los Angeles

“Rough Trade”

Kohn Gallery
1227 North Highland Avenue
March 18–April 22, 2006

Rumor has it that, when asked to complete an entry for Who’s Who in American Art, artist Bruce Conner deceptively listed himself as “Deceased.” “Rough Trade,” a group show curated by Peter Bartlett, determines that Conner’s visual style is as alive today as the seventy-two-year-old artist himself. Featuring work spanning four decades of Conner’s oeuvre and new pieces (all dated 2006) from a younger generation of artists— including Victoria Neel, Brian Bress, and Macrae Semans—the exhibition holds a mirror up to Conner’s multifaceted practice to detail his influence on contemporary sculpture, painting, photography, and collage. For example, the reliclike elements of Conner’s assemblage titled GUADALUPE, 1962, resonate in Elliott Hundley’s Untitled, 2006, a complex, sculptural collage hung nearby for dialectical emphasis. Like the fabric, beads, fur, and small iconic scapulars that adorn Conner’s composition, Hundley’s surface drips with papery, pinned-together images and ornamental found objects. In the second gallery, Maha Saab’s sculpture, a detached form composed of aluminum and enamel piping, echoes the ashy and inky lines of five of Conner’s drawings; occupying three walls of the close space, the abstract compositions encroach on Saab’s bony object. Such curatorial moves amplify the aesthetic feedback of Bruce Conner’s expansive career and play up his often-jaded presentation of cutting themes. More stylistic inheritance than “trade” in ideas, “Rough Trade” reveals that attribution and homage come easy for younger practitioners.