Monique van Genderen

The Happy Lion

Against the tide of contemporary fashion predominant more or less everywhere else, Los Angeles has produced some extremely interesting abstract painting over the past decade, much of it by women—Ingrid Calame and Monique Prieto are two that spring to mind. Part of the same current, perhaps, is other local work that, while not exactly painting, consistently foregrounds “painterly” issues (including that notorious bugbear, decorativeness—think of Pae White and Jorge Pardo. And then there are all those abstract sculptors—Evan Holloway, Jason Meadows, and the rest. Is there something in southern Californian air that makes the pathos of the figure less appealing there?

In all this work, abstraction becomes a form of immersion in, not distancing from, the quotidian environment. The artists show equal affection toward both avant-garde and kitsch—whether in the way the work incorporates the readymade

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