Art LA Contemporary 2012
Rounding out the lineup of major art fairs in Los Angeles this January, we come at last to the outlier: Art LA Contemporary. Unlike the other shows which were held downtown, this one took place in Santa Monica. It’s a long haul from downtown to Santa Monica, and there’s no public transportation between the two. (You gotta have a car. It’s Los Angeles.)
Art LA Contemporary, having the word “Contemporary” in the name, is aiming for the bleeding edge of cutting edge art. The artists aren’t just alive, many of them are barely out of their teens. It’s conceptual art, mostly. Which means I’m going to take a pretty jaundiced view going in, because frankly most conceptual art comes off as childish and ridiculous to me. Not all, but a goodly percentage. Still, I enjoyed last year’s show well enough to return this year. Buried amongst all the pretentiousness is the occasional gem, and that’s what I like to concentrate on.
Let’s take a look.
The show isn’t huge, and it’s laid out in a very easy-to-understand grid. You can go through it pretty quickly and find the few pieces you really like.
I had previously seen this video showing how the artist pours the paint, so it was fun to see the finished product in person. This is one of those “why didn’t I think of that” ideas. Simple but elegant. And I do love all the dazzling colors.
Again I’m drawn to the simple idea, well executed. It’s just wood and fluorescent tubes, but this piece made a dramatic statement. It is admittedly a little reminiscent of Dan Flavin (an artist known for his work with fluorescent light tubes) but I think this is distinctive enough not to be derivative.
I’m sorry I don’t know who the artist is, there was no sign in the booth and the gallery’s website doesn’t help. Thanks to commenter Brett Schultz for identifying the artist. (Too bad there’s no photo of the piece on his website.)
At another booth, I found myself snapping photos of several pieces by several different artists, rather than my usual one (or none!). This was the booth of Quint Contemporary Art in La Jolla, California (near San Diego). Any time I see a high concentration of work I like, I figure this is a gallery I should pay closer attention to. Here are the pieces that caught my eye:
Ryan McGinness, Women Parts series, acrylic on paper, 30×22 inches, shown by Quint Contemporary Art.
Thomas Glassford, Espejo 1, 2011, anodized aluminum, 32×42 inches, shown by Quint Contemporary Art.
The more I looked at this piece, the more I liked it. You could see the different kinds of industrial aluminum extrusions used: threshold, drip edging, siding, and other common building materials. The varying textures and colors are playful, which I appreciate. I like art that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Peter Alexander, Royal Blue Drip, 2011, polyester resin, 24×18 inches, shown by Quint Contemporary Art.
I enjoyed the simple yet luscious sensuality of this piece. It looked a little like slumped glass, thick and heavy yet floating slightly away from the wall. There’s no way Royal Blue Drip is the right title for this piece. I’m guessing Royal Blue Drip sold and was taken down and replaced by this similar green piece (probably called Kelly Green Drip or somesuch) and no one bothered to fix the wall label.
Kim MacConnel, enamel on board, shown by Quint Contemporary Art.
I could just sit and stare at these all day. Love!
Continuing my stroll through the show, here are some more pieces that caught my eye:
Unknown artist, shown by Altman Siegel, San Francisco, California.
Andrew Schoultz, Melting Gold Flag (Made in China), 2011, gold leaf, acrylic, and molten gold fluid on stretched American flag, 30×54 inches, shown by Jerome Zodo Contemporary, Milan. Sold, but no price shown.
Marco Maggi, cut paper in slide mounts, 2×2 inches each, shown by Josée Bienvenu Gallery, New York. These utterly fascinated me. The intricate precision of each tiny cut had to be seen to be believed. He must use a very sharp surgical scalpel to make these. Click on the photo for a bigger version.
Georgi Tushev, Strange Attractor series, oil painting with embedded iron filings, shown by Fitzroy Gallery, New York. You can see more photos of this series here. I was fascinated by the dimensionality this artist achieved with such simple materials. He apparently uses a powerful magnet to draw the wet paint up into these spiky, mounded shapes, which retain their shape as the paint dries.
The prize for most colorful wall at the show goes to the same gallery, Fitzroy Gallery of New York, for the outside of their booth:
Ed Moses is turning 86 this year, and still paints every day. A good example for us all, I think.
You may have noticed that none of the art had prices. There were no price tags at this show. Apparently being cutting edge means avoiding all trappings of commerce. We’ll have none of that filthy capitalism here, we’re above all that!
Never mind the foolishness, it was a fun show. Totally worth the $6 Groupon admission price. Thank you Groupon!