Miriam Schapiro

Honor Fraser
2622 S. La Cienega Blvd.
November 4–December 16

Miriam Schapiro, Mylar Series (Computer Series), 1971, tape on Mylar, 42 x 47".

Miriam Schapiro’s early collaborations are well-trod ground; her cofounding with Judy Chicago of one of the first feminist-art programs, at the California Institute of the Arts, in 1971 is legendary, and her part in coining the term femmage broke open linguistics for a burgeoning field of feminist art. But a particular association, with physicist David Nabilof, is understudied. Schapiro met Nabilof while both were teaching at the University of California, San Diego, in 1967, and together they explored the possibilities of then-nascent computer-aided design technologies. For a painter who was inculcated into the cult of Abstract Expressionist mark-making, this must have seemed a revelation—and the canvases on display in this eight-painting show are evidence of that fruitful dialogue.

One gets a sense of the artist sans computer in three paintings, all dated 1967, which display Schapiro’s crystalline, geometric style. Byzantium, for example, is a gathering of rectilinear shapes emerging from a deep-violet background, with the central form a broken pilaster. This changes in 1969, when her compositions began to look like wire frames of non-Euclidean geometric problem sets. Computer Series, 1969, presents a group of cubes and planes atop an orange ombré ground. Here, the hard-edge clarity of shape is set against ambiguous space, creating a painting that is confounding and pleasurable in equal measure. Executed on the silvery substance name-checked in its title, Mylar Series (Computer Series), 1971, is the apotheosis of Schapiro’s cyber-dream, wherein a viewer’s reflection is necessarily incorporated in her thinly taped forms—a collaboration without end.

Andy Campbell

Elisabeth Wild

918 Ruberta Ave, Unit B (entrance in the alley)
November 5–December 16

Elisabeth Wild, untitled, 2017, paper collage, 10 x 7".

The works shown here from Elisabeth Wild’s ongoing “Fantasías” series, all untitled and 2017, are collaged abstractions of cityscapes, skyscrapers, bridges, and still lifes. Each is no larger than one of the magazine pages from which she most likely gathered her material. Advertisements are cut and rearranged into geometric forms that negate their former capitalist purposes, then carefully overlaid with images of antiquated technologies, including iPods, CD-ROMs, telephone booths, and ballpoint pens. The self-contained compositions of the artist’s works bring to mind the Maschinenmensch of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), Alejandro Jodorowsky’s never-realized plans for an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune, and a sliced and pasted Moebius comic.

In these “Fantasías,” the artist can be a foreigner and an elder (Wild is ninety-five, and this is her first show in the United States). The gallery can be painted a sunny yellow, at variance with the tyranny of the white-walled tradition. The work can be arranged in an undulating pattern, like a polygraph wave, rather than positioned at standard height in a neat, straight line. Wild isn’t only imagining such alternatives but also modeling a facsimile of the cycle of obsolescence. The work demonstrates that what was once young and glossy eventually becomes old and discarded, or, perhaps worse: ornamental—all surface and no substance. On the flip side of this high-fashion page, however, the artist’s layerings provide a meditation on endurance. Her labors declare the artist as the structure that will last amid both trending and dated technologies.

Meg Whiteford

Lynda Benglis

Blum & Poe | Los Angeles
2727 S. La Cienega Boulevard
October 26–December 16

Lynda Benglis, HILLS AND CLOUDS, 2014, cast polyurethane with phosphorescence and stainless steel, 11 x 19 x 19'.

Resembling a melting hillock, comically propped up with an array of bars cast in stainless steel, HILLS AND CLOUDS, 2014, is a wonder to behold, an enormous sculpture in which Lynda Benglis’s depth of material knowledge is matched by a sheer ambition of scale. Milky green clouds made of phosphorescent polyurethane float above the gray metallic land and hedonistically frost its ridges. Though initially exhibited outside, on the grounds of Storm King Art Center, the sculpture has lost none of its grandeur and has, thankfully, not been over-cleaned in the interim. Little white rings of calcium speckle the glow-in-the-dark puffs, and slight discolorations mar the otherwise “stainless” steel. It makes a queer sort of sense that a work intended to resemble nature is now also partially its index.

Beside HILLS AND CLOUDS, the other works in the first-floor galleries are wall-mounted sculptures, which are viscerally compelling. Luckily, Benglis facilitates a close interaction, allowing a viewer to stand underneath works such as THE FALL CAUGHT, 2016, or to peer around the curled edges of FIGURE 6, 2009. Three vibrantly colored, egg-shaped objects, named after Greek nymphs and minor goddesses, lead into a room of paper and chicken-wire constructions, some heavily gilded with glitter. Amorphous, irresolute, and husk-like in appearance, these pieces embody a uniquely tacky glamour. Upstairs, a selection of ceramics from 2013 joins two made twenty years prior. It’s a clever conceit, revealing that for this artist, new work is always in conversation with the old, and that her practice has a shape all its own.

Andy Campbell

Sowon Kwon

Full Haus
2042 Griffith Park Blvd
September 2–December 3

Sowon Kwon, Coffee Table and Escritoire (after Godwin), 1994, wood, paint, plaster, dimensions variable. Installation View.

Sowon Kwon’s current exhibition highlights the importance of punctuation in successful communication. For example: the comma, that curlicue of the sentence, was invented to accommodate written language to the process of reading out loud. The mark heralds a caesura while simultaneously conjoining words and clauses; such are the hairline semiotics of this artist’s work.

From Coffee Table and Escritoire (after Godwin), 1994, a relief-sculpture re-creation of an “Anglo-Japanese” design by Edward William Godwin, to Fiction, 2017, a relief covered in false eyelashes, to a collection of artist’s books, these works delight in the collation of disparate things, undermining legibility and singularity of authorship or identity. By freely associating artists such as Ed Ruscha, Sylvia Plath, and herself (as in the artist’s book dongghab, 2010), Kwon imagines a self-portraiture fabricated from the most diminutive of links. In her book S as in Samsam, 2017, she draws upon the droll chance of homographs, short-circuiting the relation between signal and sign—in this case, “sam,” the Korean word for teacher, and the English given name. The pieces here seem made for interior space—domestic and psychological, between and inside the subject and the predicate, the seen and the read, and in the breath taken for a pause.

Meg Whiteford