Los Angeles

Julia Dault, Magic Mountain, 2013, acrylic and oil on canvas, 61 1/2 × 42 1/2".

Julia Dault, Magic Mountain, 2013, acrylic and oil on canvas, 61 1/2 × 42 1/2".

Julia Dault

China Art Objects Galleries

Julia Dault, Magic Mountain, 2013, acrylic and oil on canvas, 61 1/2 × 42 1/2".

For her first solo show in Los Angeles, “Rhythm Nation 2014,” Julia Dault installed ten paintings around one sculpture, Untitled 34, 2:45 PM–7:45 PM, April 15, 2014; 11:30 AM–12:45 PM, April 16, 2014. A decidedly material proposition, Untitled 34 nonetheless foregrounds the artist’s bodily engagement in its prolix title (which records the time involved in the work’s production over the course of two sessions). As with other pieces she has recently exhibited at the New Museum in New York and White Cube Bermondsey in London, among others, Dault here coerced large panes of Formica and Plexiglas into balletic bowing forms through acts of physical exertion. Fastened to the wall with boxing hand wraps and string, the sheets suggested a dynamic undoing—pent-up force snapping straps—that never arrived. The very literal tension resided in the work’s provisional stasis, bracketed as it was by the opening and closing of the show. The performative framing of Dault’s sculptural works raises questions regarding its bearing on her paintings, as they are often exhibited in tandem. Here, Dault largely forewent her mainstay materials—gold lamé, texturized pleather, perforated vinyl, spandex, and silk—for art-grade canvas.

In the past, Dault’s engagement with painting has comprised both “drapes” (her name for paintings that consist of fabric pinned to the wall or hung from a nail), which are refashioned for each installation, and more conventional panels. While the inconstant compositions of her drapes and sculptures alike emphasize duration and the agent of arrangement, her body-con-fabric-clad panels also, in a way, imply use: Their salvaged supports were originally manufactured to become garments associated with performance (as such, subjected to stretch and strain). A few of the works on view continued Dault’s past efforts in this vein: Super Cutz, 2014, for example, employs an additive process, superimposing a lattice of black leather atop a painted, printed canvas in the same Day-Glo-meets-1980s-beachwear palette that unifies the new pieces. While Indecent Proposal, 2013–14, features oil painted on leather, and Escapade, 2013, is composed of vinyl stretched over painted canvas, the majority (Magic Mountain, 2013, as well as The Comet, Moon River, Cloud Nine, and Night Fever, all 2014) revert to good old oil and acrylic on canvas.

Pattern remains a constant for Dault, and the cheekily titled show (its name sourced from a 1989 Janet Jackson album) was chockablock with riotous combinations of color and optically vertiginous moirés, some of which extended from the canvas to the frame. Her tools—brushes, squeegees, and rubber combs, among other objects not originally intended for painting—function as restraints against which she generates form. Dault rakes through a top layer of paint to reveal others submerged, allowing an underpainting to dry before applying the typically monochromatic scrim that serves as the site of action where her instruments meet the surface. The namesake Rhythm Nation, 2014, is exemplary in its field of black wavy lines that work their way down a vertical panel, exposing in the spaces between them a far greater range of colors in gridded configurations underneath. In Magic Mountain, in which white skin is excised in rectangular blocks to bring a coruscating flare of retro-sunset hues into view, or The Comet, in which a dense black is scraped away to uncover a substratum of neon yellow and fiery red, Dault foregrounds the path of her hand through and across the pigment. These erasures are both components of the composition and documents of the choreography that occasioned it. Ultimately, “Rhythm Nation 2014” rendered performance itself oddly superfluous—outside the parameters of the event even as it was structural to its materialization—insisting that things stay resolutely, if only briefly, on the wall.

Suzanne Hudson