reviews

  • Billy Al Bengston, Honolulu Watercolor, July, 1985, watercolor on paper, 42 1/2 × 29 1/2".

    Billy Al Bengston

    Samuel Freeman

    The outsize personality of Billy Al Bengston looms large in the prescribed historical narrative of Southland art—all wan sunshine and Ferus Gallery machismo—and even larger as the framing device for his own work. The artist’s website details his early migration from Kansas; his study at the Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles; his burgeoning interest in ceramics (which he “ditched” for painting in 1957); and his subsequent biography, metered in marriage, child-rearing, surfing, and motorcycle racing, among other milestones and pursuits. It also specifies the coordinates between

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  • View of “Greg Ito,” 2016.

    Greg Ito

    Steve Turner

    Behind an arch made from a plywood room divider whose patterned incisions gave the effect of palm fronds, candles flickered in a purple haze created by the tinted tubing that lined the rim of the pink gallery walls cradling Greg Ito’s “Soothsayer.” The screens prepared one to see the exhibition as a rebus. They evoked the folding screens of a psychic’s reading room and made a sculptural pun on the mystical art of “palm” reading. With a sleight of slender white hands and decorative élan, this glamorous installation, grounded by three handsome paintings, made fashion of fate. Out to Sea (all works

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  • Wu Tsang, Duilian, 2016, digital video and sound, 26 minutes 30 seconds. Installation view.

    Wu Tsang

    356 S. Mission Rd.

    The revision of historical narratives—rooted in feminist and civil rights movements and inflected by subsequent discourses on identity, hybridity, and intersectionality—is a vital, if perhaps over-rehearsed, artistic strategy. For Wu Tsang’s immersive installation “The Luscious Land of God Is Sinking,” the story reimagined was that of Qiu Jin, a turn-of-the-century Chinese feminist and revolutionary martyr, and that of her friend and biographer, the calligrapher Wu Zhiying. There is no overt historical record of a romantic relationship between the two, but this exhibition, based around

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  • Mira Schor, “Power” Figure: The Great Man Speaks, 2016, ink, Flashe paint, and gesso on tracing paper, 64 × 24". From the series “‘Power’ Frieze,” 2016.

    Mira Schor

    CB1 Gallery

    The problems of painting, language, and gendered power relations have long animated the work of New York–based artist and writer Mira Schor, who graduated from CalArts in 1973 and participated in its Feminist Art Program. In a preface to her 1997 book of essays titled Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture, Schor noted that her goal has been to make political paintings in the “full sense of both terms”—artworks whose political content is enhanced by their seductive medium. “Painting not as ‘eye candy,’” she wrote, “but as a synergetic honey-trap for contemporary discourse.” This

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