Los Angeles

Christie Fields/Jeff Ono

Marc Foxx Gallery

For their LA debuts, artists Jeff Ono and Christie Frields offered a slow-burn show about fast, out-of-control things. Although the worlds depicted in this double solo exhibition may seem to be fantastical, the work it presented was wrought in everyday materials—paper and plastic—allowing viewers to experience a refreshingly un-virtual reality.

The pairing of the two young LA-based artists seemed particularly apt. Each project is concerned with the notion of basic building blocks, whether of Minimalist sculpture or computer codes, and the possibilities for their colorful mutation. But what makes their work interesting is the rumination the two offer on the low-tech intimacy of the art object in the age of special effects.

Ono presented three abstract floor sculptures, and although they weren’t “of” anything in particular, this did not prevent them from being full of allusions: early Sol LeWitt or Jackie Winsor, homes for miniature aliens partial to the comforts of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes, the Styrofoam-like corridors of the USS Enterprise, or scale models of Philip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral in Orange County. These works are hand-built from pastel-colored, super-absorbent industrial paper, adhesive tape, drinking straws, and other less identifiable arte povera materials; in transforming them, Ono reveals the obsessive but restrained imagination that is the key to his artmaking. What’s more, in the midst of this referential and material flurry, his objects have a peculiarly ordered charm and a wicked sense of humor; one little beige and blue number that unfolds like an origami crystal garden is perplexingly titled Fear Satan, 1998.

Also with a touch of malice, Frields exploits several disparate vernacular tropes, including graffiti and electronic encryption, drawing attention to their highly coded makeup. Unbound, 1999, is a drawing of bamboo stalks arranged as a bar code that spells out the word “unbound” across six panels of paper; for Smart Code, 1999, Frields downloaded a bar-code program from the Internet (without bothering to pay for its decoder) to create a vortexlike text drawing on her computer in which the “smart code” is warped beyond the point of legibility; in a third piece, Galileounlimited, 1999, she worked with an especially demented-looking “graffiti” font, which closely imitates the wayward lines of street tagging, to produce a small and pretty photocopy mural. Frields promotes a kind of realism, one describing features of a disjointed metropolitan landscape that has partially disappeared into cyberspace. Unlike Ono’s urbane and generally graceful pieces, Frields’s work takes a lot of pleasure in the idea of sublime collapse: fizzing-out computer systems, signs of decay in the urban environment, and the decline of comprehensibility in general. However, in the case of both artists, all this flux is contained by the paradoxical simplicity of the object.

Giovanni Intra