Thursday, September 1, 2016

Groupthink pt. 2

Maja Ruznic
The Wind Was Not Behind His Back, So the Finger Trees 
Took It Upon Themselves to Propel the Fella Forward, 2016 
Scott Anderson, Room For Voodoo, 2015

Conveniently next door to LA Louver in Venice, Phantom Limb at Shulamit Nazarian explodes with color and strangeness. Similar to Olimipia’s Eyes at Zevitas Marcus, this exhibition benefits from a focus on the figure, despite a touch of aesthetic homogeneity. There is clear affinity between Scott Anderson’s neo-Fauvist canvases and Maja Ruznic’s fluid, feverish visions. Both artists’ work gush with seductive jolts of contrast, hue and figurative suggestion. Glimpses into Trenton Doyle Hancock’s dense intricate world augment notions of the figure ascending to the status of character. These notions are followed through with the illustrative pictures of Wendell Gladstone. The slick literalness of Gladstone’s canvases perhaps closes the figure-character gap too much, considering the formal ambiguity present in the rest of the exhibition. May Wilson’s simple and affecting sculptures stand on the precipice of a kind of intriguing liminal anthropomorphizing. The lines and gestures of each piece read as limbs and stances, ciphers for uncanny, alien presence.

We Like Explosions, at The Pit
The exhibition We Like Explosions at the Pit in Glendale finds the space completing another stage of its evolution into an artist-initiated and run commercial gallery space. Since the Pit’s inception, the curatorial eye of artist-owners Adam Miller and Devon Oder cuts like a laser beam with frequently arresting, energetic exhibitions. Of note in We Like Explosions are two canvases by the frequently copied but rarely matched Allison Miller. Both paintings reveal passages of simply phrased and nuanced space. In Head/Edge, repeated clouds of hair lazily drift over line work that manages to carve sharp contrasts of depth despite the casualness of the marks and deliberate highlighting of the edges of the canvas. In the painting Calendar, the repeated elements are arrayed among a complex hierarchy of spatial layers that dazzle the eye and brain with impossible patterns and illusion. Sculptural wall pieces by Erik Frydenborg, Nick Kramer and Nora Shields extrude their formal presence toward the viewer for effects that alternate between sensuous and tactile.

Uncommon Ground at FOCA
Tucked away upstairs in a Chinatown plaza, the Fellows of Contemporary Art maintain a space that currently features Uncommon Ground, curated by Kate Whitlock. All of the works in the exhibition extend into different kinds of spaces – physical, pictorial, and the literal space of language, as the curatorial concept finds artists responding to each other’s studio practice to “familiarize themselves with each other’s body of work as it pertains to the alphabet.” This simple connecting thread results in a subtle formal link that unites the work to positive effect while maintaining the integrity of the different object-based strategies, preventing it all from seeming like the same artist. Molly Larkey’s precise painting armatures extend from the wall carving voids out of the viewer’s physical space and appear to be trying to make contact with the arch form of Julia Haft-Candell’s Arches blob in blue and burgundy. This kind of tight physical echoing occurs on scales big and small. The subtle bits of applied paint on the linen of Larkey’s The Not Yet pieces seem to be blown-up and magnified in Lindsay August-Salazar's large abstracts on burlap. August-Salazar’s pictogram entitled works provide bolder contrasts and sharpness that complement the pastel haze of the rest of the exhibition, with Feodor Voronov’s powerful abstract cluster serving as an aesthetic bridge. Voronov wisely jumbles the work’s title within the composition beyond legibility, allowing the painting to be read over the hidden word.