Lia Halloran, “Your Body is a Space that Sees”
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
On view through May 20, 2017
The sky is both subject and medium in the current series by Los Angeles-based artist Lia Halloran. In her multi-step process, Halloran first creates large-scale blue ink on vellum drawings that become the transparencies through which she creates mural-scaled cyanotypes, dependent upon the sunlight for their exposure. The source material is both celestial and historic. Following her 2016 series Deep Sky Companion—now permanently installed at CalTech’s Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics based on the 110 deep-sky originally catalogued by French astronomer Charles Messier in 1781—the source material for the current exhibition continues to look to the heavens, but with a Feminist intervention. The images are based on, and named after, her research at Harvard University Archive of the work of nearly forgotten women, “Pickering’s Harem,” whose work with photographic glass plates is magnified to a monumental scale establishing, in addition to pure aesthetic beauty, a proper sense of their import.
Alex Weinstein at Leslie Sacks Gallery
On view through June 10, 2017
Over the past decade, Alex Weinstein’s depictions of the sea have grown increasingly abstract, from expansive vistas across an expansive, choppy sea to evocative abstractions verging toward a Rothko-ian spirituality. The original impetus for the subject is not only his passion for surfing, but a near-death experience trapped under the frothy surf in 1983. In the current series on view in the back room of Leslie Sacks Gallery, the viewer is also taken underwater. A core of luminous white, comprised of layered brushstrokes, anchors each painting and suggests the effect of sunlight hitting the surface from a vantage point below the surface. From white, the color quickly fades through tints and shades of blue to nearly black, fulfilling Kandinsky’s 1914 treatise on color, describing when blue “sinks to almost black, it echoes a grief that is hardly human.” The experience is at once haunting and transcendent.
Johannes Wohnseifer, “Class & Class Conflict”
On view through June 10, 2017
Four seemingly disparate bodies of work, united by a cool, crisp, Pop palette, by Johannes Wohnseifer offer alternate avenues to explore the difficult terrain of “Class & Class Conflict.” The most graphic and eye-catching works depict the ultimate status symbol, the Land Rover-esque Mercedes G Class, originally developed to escort the Shah of Persia through a contentious visit to Germany in 1967. Functionally obsolete, the Geländewagen’s legacy continues now as a display of urban elite knighthood. More elusive, a trio of multiple panel artworks from the German artist’s Colony Collapse series juxtapose lo- with hi-tech as scumbled painted surfaces and traditional batik-dyed fabrics are overlaid with digital laser printed fabrics and words evoking implications of Colonialism, of both the human and animal variety. The phrase Honey Money makes multiple appearances, evoking the plight of the endangered honeybees, an essential component of the agricultural economy. With seven new species of bees added to the endangered lists just last year, it is a reminder that the most vulnerable elements of the ecosystem, those most fragile links, often prove the most essential.
Christine Weir, “Qualia”
On view through June 17, 2017
Christine Weir handles graphite much like a painter handles paint. The artist, who received her BFA in Drawing, builds a dense layering of graphite on clay panels until the final result becomes nearly metallic. The series is unified through the casting of a common form, a series of concentric circles that contrasts the background with its nearly raw surface. Weir points to literature as a source of inspiration, and has described these circles as a “point of origin” or representation of “the self.” Each of these geometric forms in interrupted by amorphous lines, resembling billowing smoke here or densely foliaged tree branches there. These intrusions are like the uncontrollable forces the interrupt that self, or awareness thereof. However, in these works, it is the intrusions—the unexpected, the painful, the bittersweet, that complete the aesthetic of the image.
Dean Byington, “Theory of Machines”
On view through June 30, 2017
Dean Byington’s panoramic landscapes are complex fictions, an amalgamation of disparate imagery that points simultaneously to the past and future. Culled from a variety of sources, a single artwork consists of literally thousands of found images and engravings from vintage books collaged with the artist’s drawing and digital composites that are silkscreened onto the canvas. There are multiple points on entry into these compositions, crafted through repetitions of imagery—scaffolding, meandering walls, barren foundations, and references to ancient sites—nestled into looming mountainscapes. Akin to Michael Light’s aerial photography, Byington’s works are not merely optical delicacies but serve as a cautionary tale. As one surveys the landscape, the journey is not only geographic, but a chronological trek through the ebb-and-flow of time as the great civilizations and their “Theory of Machines” will rise and fall. Humbly serving as mere backdrop, the natural world, albeit it a little worse for the wear, will endure.