Los Angeles

Aaron Wrinkle

Las Cienegas Projects

“The world is full of objects, more or less interesting,” Douglas Huebler famously observed in 1969, with this twist: “I do not wish to add any more.” While the late artist’s statement was certainly a personal manifesto—he had just turned away from blocky geometric sculpture toward slighter, slier modes incorporating text and photography—it was surely meant as a challenge to the whole artmaking enterprise, from the studio to the site of exhibition. In recent years, Los Angeles–based Aaron Wrinkle has operated close to the margins of visibility, if not viability, implied by Huebler’s statement.

Between 2007 and 2008, while a student at the California Institute of the Arts, Wrinkle restored a 1977 Volvo sedan once belonging to Huebler (the school’s former dean) to impeccable condition, further tricking out the car with a roof rack (found in the trunk) for a surfboard he had been given. Since then, he has reorganized the legendary art collection of Diana Zlotnick (an idiosyncratic gold mine featuring works by John Baldessari, Chris Burden, and Raymond Pettibon, acquired when those artists were first emerging) in her Studio City home; and, somewhat more visibly, he opened a tiny gallery space named Dan Graham in a shared Echo Park studio, recently relocating that project to a Chinatown storefront. Favoring supporting roles over star turns and ephemeral gestures over tangible objects, he has strategically made himself hard to pin down.

With his first solo show, titled “Las Cienegas Projects and Guests,” Wrinkle’s elusive work encountered a larger, more visible stage—this generously scaled gallery—if only to make the disappearing act more theatrical. Two walls of the project space were reskinned with ragged planes of drywall excised from the first incarnation of the artist’s Dan Graham venue. Drily titled Gallery Walls as Placement Support Systems, Gallery Wall 1, Gallery Wall 2, Studio Wall 1, Studio Wall 2, Projection Corridor Wall 1, and dated 2008–10, the repurposed surfaces faced George Brett 1978/A Historic Portrait, 2010, a vintage poster of the Kansas City Royals star, from the year the artist was born. Seemingly incongruent, the two works in fact followed an economy of reuse (the artist perhaps not wishing to add objects to the world) as well as pointed to intertwined tracks of information: Wrinkle’s recent gallery project and Midwestern upbringing of the 1970s and ’80s.

This ambiguous juncture of personal information and architectural context continued in the main space, where Wrinkle had inserted a swath of carefully folded posters into the framework of the gallery’s vaulted ceiling, using the diagonal lumber pattern to inform the layout. The absurd constellation of Pop signifiers—the subjects of the posters, presumably the “guests” in the show’s title, range from Public Enemy to Pee Wee Herman, Michael Jordan to Freddy Krueger—called attention to an adolescence defined by cultural identifiers and their frequently awkward juxtaposition, without asserting any obvious agenda. More succinctly, the artist placed an E.T. “activity book” from his childhood, with a naughty loose-leaf photo of porn star Jenna Jameson inserted, on the gallery desk—and presumably the “alteration” had occurred many years before this show.

In Hung Up Aesthetic, 2007–10, a bundle of the artist’s used clothes, a toy crown, and crafty knickknacks inelegantly slathered in white paint were slung over the metal cross brace in the second gallery. More conventionally sculptural, the work nevertheless maintained the logic of the show by intimating autobiography while coolly offering evidence of labor and expenditure in its place, the white paint recalling the artist’s other mundane work as a de facto gallery preparator. If some of these tactics looked familiar (Amanda Ross-Ho’s studio recycling, Mike Kelley’s adolescent recoveries, and Michael Asher’s contextual play come to mind), they were: Wrinkle is clearly more invested in art’s economy and circulation than in fulfilling any expectations of originality. The artist’s personal effects provided little juicy information but hinted that most artists, like teenagers, define themselves through precise combinations of the available options.

Michael Ned Holte