Wednesday, August 17, 2016

David Brenner

Jason Ramos, David Brenner, 2016, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches (61 x 91.5 cm)
I can't recall my earliest memory of David Brenner, but I knew he'd been around for a while. Every clip he was all lapels, gold chains, and big hair, firmly placing him in the 70's. It was obvious from his age and the reverence toward him that he was the primary influence on a style of observational humor that eventually came to be identified with and popularly epitomized by Jerry Seinfeld. Brenner's heyday was right around when I was born; his 158 appearances on and guest hosting of Carson's Tonight Show made him a household name and presence back then. When I was a bit older in the 90's, I was able to glean that he had been taking a long break from showbiz to deal with a child custody issue. I distinctly remember his comeback stand-up special on HBO in 2000, with its Goodfellas style promo. As I recall he went on stage with a copy of USA Today and improvised jokes from the headlines. I also remember he got married again on stage at the end. My favorite David Brenner joke goes something like, "I hear they're making a pill to cure gambling addiction – c'mon, what are the odds?"

Monday, August 15, 2016


Perfect Day at Roberts and Tilton
A canoe, courtesy of Martin Durazo, in the middle of the main room of Perfect Day at Roberts and Tilton, immediately makes the exhibition feel like a journey. First stop are the dense collage swatches of Stanley Bell. Among bits of architectural imagery weaving ripples of background and foreground together within a circus of figurative debris, I recognize an image of comic book character the Vision, from Avengers #58 (1968) – “Even An Android Can Cry”. It’s probably from a reprint because it’s in black and white.  A painting by Ohad Sarfaty feels like a Neo Rauch if Neo Rauch replaced his cold war references with contemporary racial justice references. Deft patchwork portraits by Tschabalala Self declare specific identities, resonant in their use of collaged pattern, texture, shape and mark. His Supercluster Cosmic Remnant by Lisa C Soto reads like an ancient document, map, star chart or x-ray. It feels unearthed and imbued with history. A ceramic piece by Johanna Jackson entitled Bright Future is a prehistoric emoji and vague cousin to Danny First’s ceramic works. Robert Russell’s pleasing grid of banal suburban details feel like like vacuum sealed Morandi still lives. Exaggerated highlights on the forms make each work look as though its been through a single iteration of Google’s DeepDream. The art historical-nerd riddle posed by Daan den Houter’s painting Without De Kooning and Eraser forces a harder look at what ends up being a genuinely fresh and satisfying small abstract work.

Olimpia's Eyes at Zevitas Marcus
Olimpia’s Eyes, curated by Jessica Hodin and Ben Charles Weiner at Zevitas Marcus is explicit in its focus on figuration, almost all of it painting, and this tighter conceptual emphasis benefits the work and the viewer well. Like the exhibition title, something seems off with Ben Wolf Noam’s Greco-Roman sculptural ode Mother Internet (Venus) from across the room. Closer inspection reveals that the statue appears to have not finished rendering in the matrix/simulation/holodeck. Its contrapposto pose echoes nicely with the photoshop-warped stroke-mag sex object in Ryder Ripps’s painting Gettin’ Ready. Lee Piechocki’s Captofromancy looks like if Mark Tansey tried to make a portrait of Ego the Living Planet from memory underwater. The gestalt appearance of the human visage from minimal information strikes smart chords in works by Rallou Panagiotou, Lauren Silva, Jenna Gribbon, Eric Yahnker and Brian Scott Campbell.

Heat at Paul Loya Gallery (Aaron Elvis Jupin)

The strong showing at Paul Loya Gallery is called Heat and despite being a sausage party, packs an off-beat punch. An overall cartoony, hallucinogenic vibe is maintained by a disco menagerie painted by Brian Montuori, a Chuck Jones-meets-Richard Tuttle installation by Aaron Elvis Jupin, and rough-hewn child like abandon that comes in two flavors: chunky, by way of the paintings of tattoo artist Ryan Shaffer, and flat, via the ironed-out primary colored figurative suggestions of James Ulmer. All the work in the show falls within the range of pleasingly disconcerting, and the fresh strangeness of Heat makes a case to hold its own among the deluge of summer group exhibitions in LA both large and small.

Concrete Matter & Liquefied Horizons @Garboushian Gallery (Bev Hills) ends Aug 19th

Perfect Day @Roberts and Tilton (Culver City) ends Aug 20th
Me, Myself, I @China Art Objects (Culver City) ends Aug 20
Heat @Paul Loya Gallery (Culver City) ends Aug 21
How to Build a Foghorn @Samuel Freeman (Culver City) ends Aug 27
Olimpia’s Eyes @Zevitas Marcus (Culver City) ends Aug 27th
Enlarged Fern @Moskowitz Bayse (Hollywood) ends Aug 27th
Southland @Charlie James (Chinatown) ends Aug 27
Summer Reverie @CB1 (Arts District) ends Aug 28th
Closing Celebratory Show @Rosamund Felsen (Arts District) ends Sept 1st
PLEASE HAVE ENOUGH ACID IN THE DISH! @M+B (Beverly Hills) ends Sept 2nd
Shared Universe @Eastside International (Lincoln Heights/the Brewery) ends Sept 3rd
Phantom Limb @Shulamit Nazarian (Venice) ends Sept 9th
We Like Explosions @The Pit (Glendale) ends Sept 11th
Passage @ACME (Wilshire/Mid-city) ends Sept 17th