Los Angeles

View of “Brett Lund,” 2010. Foreground: Death Drive, 2010. Background: F-bomb (Fun), 2010.

View of “Brett Lund,” 2010. Foreground: Death Drive, 2010. Background: F-bomb (Fun), 2010.

Brett Lund

Thomas Solomon Art Advisory | Bethlehem Baptist Church

View of “Brett Lund,” 2010. Foreground: Death Drive, 2010. Background: F-bomb (Fun), 2010.

If Logos, figured through language as “the Word,” represents the all-encompassing unifying order of the world in metaphysics since Heracleitus, then Brett Lund’s exhibition title “ProtoLogos” would seem to suggest a breathtakingly ambitious attempt to step back even further in the mystical fog of being’s origins to grope something more embryonic, primordial, and pelvic at work in the universe. Palpating the transition between oozing chaos and inchoate order, between language and the inarticulate and ineffable on either side, the three wall works and five sculptures on view here manifested the artist’s productive (if inherently unresolvable) attempts to materially work through the philosophical problem that “ProtoLogos” posed: What could possibly be before Logos, language, rationality, and discourse? And what would that first rearing of the Word look like?

Lund’s paintings (two on canvas and one on paper) use the distilled Bauhaus palette of geometric, modular stencil shapes that make up Josef Albers’s 1926 Architype Albers typeface as the graphic basis for the transformation of spray-painted textual units into impressive textural abstractions full of complex overlapping patterns and luminous prismatic chroma. ProtoLogos (Textile) (all works 2010) layers the letters of its spelled-out title as an illegible palimpsest of semicircles, lozenges, and rectangles built up out of thin atomized skeins of vivid fluorescent color that recalls the sprayed facture of an ink-jet printer down to its limited CMYK color spectrum. A thick, black diagonal slash across the middle of the canvas simultaneously communicates blocked access, negation, either/or-ness, division, cellular reproduction, seismic fissure, and the cutting violence of all things slasher in order to reinforce the function of text here as signifying coded (though not necessarily legible) signification. Establishing a postindustrial future-primitive aesthetic register that reigned throughout the show, Lund evinced a crudely elemental and obliquely technological version of Albers’s broken-down, abstracted type, superimposing allusions to military stencils on the sides of missiles with the digital world’s stream of binary dots and dashes.

Militarized aggression underwent further permutation through explosive deformity and sticky sexuality in Lund’s rough, dripping, and swollen abject sculptures, which channel ProtoLogos through a hyperbolically haptic interpretation of Logos spermatikos, the Stoics’ generative principle of meaning and order figured materially as the body’s seminal fluid. Perversely, the inception of Logos is rendered sculptural by Lund as an unnatural, toxic, synthetic alien state located ambiguously in the primeval past and fictive future of radioactive wreckage, congealed slime, cleaved heads, storm trooper helmets, skeletal masks, lunar craters, and exploded bombshells. N-bomb (Negro Sombra) is a teetering black tower of balls and limbs (including one “arm” holding a decapitated can of spray paint evocatively branded Alien Art Concept) that suggests both the tarred remains of a pre- or posthuman homunculus (a grotesque but obsequious stand-in for the artist?) and a twisting mushroom cloud literalizing the shape of Little Boy or Fat Man. Untitled (Herm) is a clunky asteroid of foam, plaster, fiberglass, paint, and resin frozen midmetamorphosis from zygotic blob into a Darth Vader head shrouded in a glassy black membrane whose abjectness affects alien amniotic goo or precum.

The alluringly repulsive sexual poetics of Lund’s sculptures here reached its possibly premature climax in La Petite Mort, a strange bone-white plaster mask or skull perforated by two enormous hollow eye sockets rimmed with sooty (eye) shadow and exaggerated so much that they merge with the jawline. The translucent, Jolly Rancher–pink shrink-wrap and resin encircling the mask like a candied blindfold beg to be licked. Tempting obscene desire, the work triggers a haunting image of tonguing the abyss where the outrageously monstrous eyeballs of some imaginary all-seeing eye-monster once were. If you could just get past the stylized morbidity, teenage goth affinities, heavy-handed titles, and cloying Sterling Ruby–adjacent material vernacular, you were in for a real sweet treat.

Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer