Critic’s Picks: Los Angeles

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“When You’re Here and There,” 2016, Annie Lapin Oil, acrylic, Cel-Vinyl and charcoal on linen, 72″ x 96″ Photo: courtesy Honor Fraser

“I’m hoping, through painting, to create these moments for the viewer where you’re constantly on the verge of resolution,” says Annie Lapin while standing in her studio amid paintings to be featured in the artist’s upcoming solo exhibition at Honor Fraser gallery. “Fundamentally, my interest in painting is connected to my interest in perception in general.” The works, a patchwork of disparate imagery and abstractions, offer a virtual dialogue of painting isms, strategies and techniques: ranging from Romanticism to Surrealism rendered with gestural brushwork offset with airbrushed clouds, masked geometric shapes, scumbled yellows, and hazy purple spots. In earlier paintings, Lapin (who once studied archeology at Yale University) would overlay these layers of painting, creating a hidden record of the artist’s choices beneath the painting’s finished surface. In the current body of work, Lapin moves the explorative process from the painting to the computer, allowing Lapin to explore alternative paths digitally before concrete decisions are made on the canvas. The resulting surface, with tromp l’oeil elements of collage and overlapping shapes, is a visual dichotomy: seemingly textural and tactile, yet almost completely flat. Within these fractured images are multiple realities that are both offered and denied to the viewer; not unlike the myth of the Romantic Landscape, they exist just out of reach. New paintings by Annie Lapin will be on view at Honor Fraser November 5 – December 16, 2016.

“Untitled,” 1976, Fred Eversley, Cast polyester resin, 20″ x 20″ x 4″
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Gift of Joyce and Paul Krasnow Photo: Charles Mayer, courtesy Art + Practice

Sculptor Fred Eversley has spent over four decades exploring the seemingly limitless opportunities of geometric forms in stainless steel, bronze and the poured acrylic polymers for which he is best known. A Carnegie Institute of Technology-trained engineer, Eversley moved to Los Angeles in the early 1960s to work in the Aerospace Industry. He soon immersed himself in the nascent Light & Space movement. The prismatic spectrums captured in the parabolic shapes that have consumed the artist for much of his career exemplify his philosophical leanings; as he writes: “The original and ultimate source of all energy on earth is the sun… My early sculptures were directly influenced by the concept of this solar energy source, but were representative of the broader sense of energy as both a physical and metaphysical concept.” It is almost antithetical to envision an exhibition of his work void of the signature sapphire blues, candy apple reds, and rich ambers, but that is exactly what Kim Conaty, curator for the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, has done for the upcoming exhibition at Art + Practice. Showing exclusively works initially produced as experiments in black before expanding to shades gray and opaque whites, the work promises an evocative experience, as the achromatic sculptures play with the viewer’s perception and reflect hints of color absorbed from the surrounding environment. “Fred Eversley: Black, White, Gray” runs November 12, 2016 – January 28, 2017 at Art + Practice.

“Transition H45,” 2016, Jessica Eaton, archival pigment print
Photo: © Jessica Eaton. Courtesy: the artist and M+B Gallery, Los Angeles

Although Canadian-born photographer Jessica Eaton works with film, it seems easier to locate her predecessors among those who manipulate pigment rather than pixels or film. In 2014, Eaton mined the possibilities of the cube as subject with her series Cubes for Albers and LeWitt, in which she coaxed a magnificent array of CMYK hues from a primarily gray-scale subject-the numerous “overlapping” cubes had been painted black, white and gray. The resulting colors seen on the final works were pure fiction, an illusion created through multiple exposures of multiple cubes (one at a time) using multiple color-separation filters. For her current exhibition at M+B, the explorations continue with three new series that confound the viewer’s expectations and perception. Her Transitions series seems to translate the dizzying rhythms of Bridget Riley through the jazzy riffs of Karl Benjamin. The layered hovering discs pictured in Pictures for Women and luminous, nautilus-like forms of Revolutions suggest digital renderings, but the artist remains grounded in analogue techniques. One might be tempted to look for similarities with Barbara Kasten’s photographic abstractions or Wolfgang Tillman’s darkroom explorations, but Eaton’s perception-bending abstractions are not of tangible subjects nor are they achieved via post-production manipulations. Instead, they are created through the artist’s exploitations of the inner-workings of her large-format analogue camera. “Jessica Eaton” remains on view at M+B through November 12, 2016.

“Galactic Heart,” 2015, Sharon Ellis, Alkyd on paper, 27 5⁄8″ x 23 1⁄4″ x 2″ 
Photo: courtesy Christopher Grimes Gallery

In Dave Hickey’s appropriately titled essay Modest Ecstasy, from the recent book “25 Women: Essays on Their Art,” he proposed: “If one tries to imagine the kind of art that might have been produced in Southern California with the imported overlay of industrial modernism and Protestant rectitude-the kind of art that might have flourished had California’s own, odd commingling of Mediterranean generosity and Victorian romanticism been allowed to flourish unimpeded, that art would look a lot like the work of Sharon Ellis.” Looking at the Yucca Valley-based artist’s Symbolist-evoking landscape paintings, each one taking up to a year of meticulous layering to complete, one can’t help imagining an equally compelling assortment of modernist influences-Friedrich, Morris, Seurat, Matisse and an equal serving of Japonisme-rendered with an unquestionably contemporary palette and vision. Her own background is an equally rich synthesis, an undergraduate at the radical UC Irvine in 1978, she got a graduate degree from conservative Mills College in ’84 before moving to New York, where visiting the collections of The Met and The Frick became, arguably, her most significant influences. The works are at once ethereal and eternal, allowing the viewer to dwell within landscapes of fractal patterns and subtle intricacies. Her show “Intimate Terrain,” featuring new works on paper, can be seen at Christopher Grimes Gallery, November 12, 2016 – January 7, 2017.

German-born photographer Alma Haser began making portraits after she received her first camera at the age of six, an interest revived when the artist, older and wiser at age 13, traveled the world with her family. Haser, who graduated Nottingham Trent University in 2010 and continues to reside in London, traces the “catalyst for my origami obsession” to those early travels, which also took her to Japan. In the current series, Cosmic Surgery, these folded components became central to her practice transforming what begins as an ordinary, almost clinical, style of portrait into a surrealist mind game. To create each work, Haser uses multiple prints of a photographic portrait, covering the sitter’s face with complex geometric forms composed of origami works created from additional prints of the subject’s face. The photograph and object are photographed again so that the finished work retains the flatness of a traditional portrait. With the details of the face obscured, even fractured, by the Cubism-evoking technique, the viewer is confronted with multiple eyes, mouths, noses folded, or woven, into octahedrons and octagonal prisms. This prompts the viewer to look elsewhere to stabilize the viewing experience: the sitter’s attire, hairstyle, partially revealed tattoos, and the tilt of the head, each providing indirect clues to the subject’s true identity. Alma Haser Cosmic Surgery will be on view at De Soto Gallery, November 6 – December 31, 2016.

“The Octopus of Life,” 2016, Jeffrey Vallance, Mixed media on paper with commercial labels, stickers, and printed paper collage, 23″ x 29″
Photo: courtesy Edward Cella Art + Architecture

A confluence of odd bedfellows is the hallmark of Jeffrey Vallance’s irreverent approach to art-making, use of materials, his amalgamations of popular culture, religion, tradition, the election, and the whole lot of it. Recently, Vallance has ventured down two divergent paths: the first, a series of works on paper collectively titled Rudis Tractus; the other veering into the realm of social media, which critic Doug Harvey describes in the show’s catalogue as a means “to prod and probe the new social boundaries and mechanisms generated by the new technology.” The upcoming exhibition at Edward Cella Art + Architecture highlights recent drawings and preparatory studies by the Los Angeles-based artist that are every bit as eclectic as his previous two- and three-dimensional works-incorporating stickers, commercial labels, printed paper collage with hints of exquisitely rendered architectural motifs and animated cartoon-like animals emerging from a cacophony of Twombly-esque scribbles, expanding across the surface of the hand-crumpled paper. Almost ironically, Vallance describes the drawing Umbrella (Skum), 2016 inspired by the Swedish artist Nils Nilsson Skum: “Much of his art was accompanied by bizarre texts written in the colorful Skumstyle, featuring curious explanations of his work.” Life imitates art imitates life. Jeffrey Vallance, “Now More Than Ever,” will run November 5 – December 31, 2016 at Edward Cella Art + Architecture.

—Molly Enholm