Los Angeles Art Gallery Tours

Illuminating the Los Angeles Art Scene

Kristin Calabrese, Sabotage Bitch, 2011, oil and acrylic on canvas, 102 x 78 inches

Kristin Calabrese, Sabotage Bitch, 2011, oil and acrylic on canvas, 102 x 78 inches

Susanne Vielmetter’s Gallery in Culver City actually has three separate solo shows up this month (Kristin Calabrese, Monique van Genderen and Mindy Shapero) and all are worth a visit, but Calabrese’s paintings particularly resonated with me this afternoon.

Her show, entitled “Back of My Face,” is described by the artist a direct expression of her emotional life rendered as objects. And, the most interesting paintings in her show begin to take on the role of fragments of her personality as both a human being and as an ambitious, engaged artist.

The first painting one encounters in the show, Sabotage Bitch, pictured above, seems to be a representation of several things: most obviously, the sort of ugly, petty emotions one might quietly harbor, but never reveal.

More interestingly, the piece itself has the cool appearance of the sort of coy artwork that might be more than completely at home, but only mildly remarkable in any generic high-stakes international contemporary art fair context. And, since Calabrese is mostly known for her highly refined realistic painting chops, which the rest of the show ably demonstrates, the piece feels like a strange, out of place anomaly. Take a look at the painting’s materials and its combination of (water-based) acrylic and oil paint might suggest that the piece is, in a sense, “sabotaging” itself by means of mixing materials that can’t be used together without soon peeling.

OOPS… as I now understand it – “(Sabotage Bitch) is an acrylic ground with oil on top – similar to most oil paintings with a gesso ground – so it’s archival and won’t peel.” (Thanks for the correction, Kristin!)
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Marco Brambilla, Evolution (Megaplex), 2010, 3-D High Definition disc, Color, sound 03:04 min., loop

Marco Brambilla, Evolution (Megaplex), 2010, 3-D High Definition disc, Color, sound 03:04 min., loop

While often the recipient of critical accolades, the Santa Monica Museum of Art (at Bergamot Station,) remains just slightly off the radar screen for many Angelenos. But the current exhibition,  entitled The Dark Lining, by video artist Marco Brambilla, merits an obligatory pilgrimage to Santa Monica sometime before the show closes on August 20th.

Simultaneously thoughtful, bombastic and pyrotechnical – the bi-coastal, Italian-born, Canadian-bred Brambilla dazzles viewers with state-of-the-art visual effects employed toward thoughtful ends: In Sea of Tranquility, 2006, a time lapse image of the gradual erosion of the lunar lander suggests the decay and demise of American optimism in the first decade of the new millennium. In Wall of Death, 2001, a video loop creates the illusion of a motorcycle rider in a continuous state of peril as he endlessly defies gravity navigating the inside of a giant cylinder – a metaphor for the game of living.

These are but appetizers in anticipation of the main course, two 3D videos, employing Hollywood film clips to generate writhing,  pop-culture-fueled, virtual sculptures, depicting the history of mankind and heaven & hell: Evolution (Megaplex) 3-D and Civilization (Megaplex) 3-D, respectively.

Most impressively, the special effects serve to define and deepen the impact of the two videos rather than merely indulging our appetite for technological eye-candy.

Marco Brambilla, Civilization (Megaplex), 2008, Single-channel video, Color, sound 03:00 min., loop

Marco Brambilla, Civilization (Megaplex), 2008, Single-channel video, Color, sound 03:00 min., loop


Kiewit Collective's "Model Man for a New Era of Environmental Art"

Kiewit Collective's "Model Man for a New Era of Environmental Art"

Los Angeles is abuzz with excitement this weekend in eager anticipation of the city’s first annual mammoth land art project, (car)maggedon (I) – an ambitious environmental art “intervention” that has a little bit of something for everybody: beauty, grandeur and a rigorous conceptual framework that deconstructs Southern California’s reliance on the automobile.

The art event is touted as the Los Angeles art world’s answer to the massive Coachella music festival, except with only one performer: the Kiewit Collective – famed for their cheerful yellow trucks and brightly colored vests and, of course, hundreds of ongoing performances across the United States and Canada. The anonymity of the individual performers is key to the troupe’s mysterious allure and popularity, which is often described as “the outdoor complement to the Blue Man Group.” (more…)