Rambling through Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2011
At long last, my promised second post about the two big commercial art fairs held in Los Angeles each year.
In my previous post, I talked about the more traditional art fair. Here we’ll turn to Art Los Angeles Contemporary, the more contemporary of the two. (In other words, most of the artists in this one are still alive.)
Actually, there are more than two fairs now. The big contemporary art fair in Los Angeles in January used to be ArtLA, but at some point it moved both its location and time (it is now held downtown in the fall). I attended ArtLA back in January of 2008 and found it quite lacking. The work was crude and sophomoric and the crowd full of annoying posers. Not surprisingly I didn’t return until this year. Or so I thought.
In January 2011 when I attended a big contemporary art show being held in ArtLA’s old location at ArtLA’s old time, you can imagine my confusion. I thought it was the same show. But boy did it look different! Sophisticated, edgy, interesting, and polished. The work shone, and the crowds were grownups. I was amazed. Could this really be the same show? It was so much improved! (It turns out: no, it’s not the same show. Ha.)
Right, we’ve cleared that up. Whew!
This was Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2011:
Per my usual MO, I attended during the week to avoid the big weekend crowds.
To lay claim to the title of “contemporary,” incomprehensible live performances in the halls are de rigueur:
A male and female performer, faces obscured, rolled around silently on the floor. Had the crowds been thicker it might have obstructed traffic, but we were hardly inconvenienced. At one point, the male rubbed an iron up and down the female’s legs while she jumped up and down and waved her hands over her head (photo below). It’s all very deep and meaningful, I’m sure.
One of the galleries held a live performance in their booth every hour. It also consisted of a male and female, but these two simply held static poses for several minutes. They were in an elaborate mini-stage evoking the Garden of Eden. Adam groped Eve, while Eve considered whether to pluck fruit or dollar bills from the tree:
The best part of this performance was how big a crowd it drew, and how long everyone stood around looking at the tableau. This performance did interfere with traffic, blocking the row and spilling into the booth opposite.
Said booth happened to belong to Kalfayan Galleries from Athens, Greece (they were very philosophical about the periodic inundations). They were showing work by artist Antonis Donef, who collages pages from antique books and then hand-alters the line illustrations. The results are intricate and intriguing, inviting close study. I indulged for quite some time.
Each piece was quite large, several feet across:
Here’s a detail view:
I especially like the creature popping out of the roof at center, peeking up the lady’s voluminous (and enhanced) skirt. (Click image for a closer view.)
Asya Geisberg Gallery from New York had some work that struck me as pretty interesting:
Untitled (Green Stripes) by Angelina Gualdoni, 50×47 inches, 2010.
Work by Todd Kelly.
After spending thousands of dollars for the booth space at the fair, airfare from New York, meals and hotel, there was apparently very little left for wall tags:
In contrast, some galleries pre-printed their wall tags with all sorts of information (but hardly ever price, unfortunately). The most elaborate were mounted on foamcore:
But I digress. Back to the art.
Here are some paintings by Gary Lang, shown at ACE Gallery (Beverly Hills). I had seen these pieces at the gallery, but I was thrilled to get a second look. I love his work. The bigger round painting is some 10 feet across or so. Enormous. Just moving that thing around requires some serious engineering. (I had to ask.)
Here’s one of his plaid paintings, which I also greatly admire:
Some more huge paintings at ACE (artists unknown, sorry):
More galleries! Here’s “The Company” (Los Angeles) with color-coordinated 2D and 3D art:
I really liked this big orange and green painting shown by Steve Turner Contemporary of Los Angeles, but a quick scour of their website yielded no information about the artist.
Here’s 1301PE (Los Angeles). I particularly liked the big blue and yellow painting on the back wall:
I saw more than one fishnet. That officially makes it a trend. Here are some nets I saw:
Work shown by Honor Fraser of Los Angeles. (Click to see larger version, net is in gold-colored piece on the right.)
Work by Paul Heyer, shown by the Night Gallery. This piece is made from the wooden backside of a painting, sans canvas, filled with hardened resin and overlaid with a fishnet adorned with mussel shells. The wall it hangs on is painted dark purple everywhere except behind the artwork, where it’s white. Tricksy stuff.
A note about the Night Gallery. I couldn’t figure this place out. Speaking with the folks staffing the booth didn’t help. It has some kind of identity crisis, or maybe it’s trying way too hard to be obscure and mysterious. Location? Hours? (Night only? Really?) Is it an art gallery? What’s the relation with Paperchase Press? Why is the website a .ca domain (Canada) when it’s clearly in Los Angeles? I don’t know.
Plucking Up Courage by Soo Kim, hand-cut chromogenic print and acrylic paint, 26×26 inches (framed), 2011. Shown by Angles Gallery, Los Angeles. (If this seems vaguely familiar, that’s because this is the source of the “good” wall tag I showed earlier.)
Also at Angles Gallery, I was highly intrigued by the next piece. I like its rhythmic, organic feeling. I thought it was a painting until I read the wall tag. Thank goodness for good wall tags!
Floating Petals by Ori Gersht, inkjet print (of a photograph), 51×80 inches, 2010.
We’ll finish off with these striking giant cross-stitch pieces by Liz Craft. What an appropriate name!
Good stuff. Definitely gotta go back next year.