Los Angeles Art Gallery Tours

Illuminating the Los Angeles Art Scene

Dion Johnson, Glider, 2011, acrylic on canvas over panels, 60 x 160 inches

Dion Johnson, Glider, 2011, acrylic on canvas over panels, 60 x 160 inches

Just down the block from Michael Maloney’s Gallery, whose summer show seemed about as summer-y as possible, comes another contender for the iconic show for summer in Los Angeles, 2011. Widely exhibited LA artist, Dion Johnson‘s show at Western Project in Culver City, up now through September 3, really captures the summertime light of Los Angeles, as filtered through the lens of some of the city’s most iconic art and architecture. (more…)


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!)
(more…)


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