los-angeles

John Chamberlain and Mel Ramos

Mizuno Gallery and David Stuart Gallery

John Chamberlain and Mel Ramos, both with shows of individually new work nevertheless firmly planted in their respective grooves, are a polar pair: art as pure play and art as the calculated product of a professional. Chamberlain is the player, the artist who links up the caveman, with a glimmer of an idea lurking in the back of his head, and the contemporary, dedicated, alien, humanist-intellectual. “If this bit of next-to-nothing can’t, by rule, be art,” he seems to say, “then nothing is.” What Chamberlain shows this time are seven crumpled paper-bag sculptures, some unadulterated, others with black cardboard or black-backed leadfoil additions, liberally splashed and soaked with polyester resin (polyester resin is becoming as standard an artist-manhood necessity as Duco house paint was half a generation ago) and displayed, with only one exception, on five-foot-high plexiglass pedestals.

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