Favorite shows of 2019
Elliot Bergman “Peace Bells”, Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles
The realms of music, performance and art skillfully come together in Elliot’s work. His Peace Bells installation was mesmerizing, a rare feeling to have in a world where we are constantly seeking experiences to take us beyond what we know and what we have already seen. We are often left wanting. Elliot’s installation fulfilled what our bodies and senses crave - a visual, sonic, visceral and emotional experience that literally resonates with our own humanity. Looking up at five performers on fifteen foot ladders, ringing giant brass bells that glow above them like the golden halos of sacred figures in Iconography painting reminded us that art can still connect us to the divine. The performers played the length of the museums opening hours for three consecutive days, moving like dancers from instrument to instrument, playing brass bells, sound sculptures, kalimbas, a giant marimba and a saxophone with such focus and purpose. Their rhythms and sounds called you to surrender and be present with them not unlike what it feels like to deeply listen as you meditate, chant or pray. It brings to mind the words of the poet Mary Oliver, “Attention is the beginning of devotion.”
Hilma of Klint “Paintings for the Future”, Guggenheim, New York City
This is a once in a lifetime show. I traveled to New York two weeks ago to see it. Hilma af Klint’s work has been a love of mine since grad school, where I was heavily steeped in doing independent studies on alchemical texts and literature, and looking at any historical painting that touched on themes of esoteric spiritualism. Her work is breathtaking, both in the context of the painting of today, not to mention trying to wrap your mind around the fact that she was painting these paintings at the turn of the last century - the first truly abstract works, long before Kandinsky, Mondrian, and Malevich. Paintings for the future for sure. So, the work is incredible! But, what also was amazing was to see it in the spiral architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum. There has never been a more perfect pairing between artworks and viewing conditions. The spirals, circles, rainbows, swans, symbols, light and dark, male and female, the geometry… it all adds up to one message - our longing for union.
Fragonard is one of my favorite painters. I still stand by the opinion that he understood the color pink in a way no other artist has - or ever will. I love visiting this room when I am in New York. The Frick constructed it especially for this series of paintings when they acquired them. They were originally commissioned in 1771 for the Comtesse du Barry, the last mistress of Louis XV. Entitled “The Progress of Love” they depict the “four ages of love.” The Rococo period is one of my favorites, particularly because it has a serious investment in ideas of pleasure, desire and romance. I am working on an upcoming show which deals with some of these themes so it was nice to revisit this work. One of my favorite aspects of Rococo you can see in this room - many of the paintings were meant to be installed into the wall and incorporated into the architecture, allowing the viewer to experience a seamless transition between space and painting, blurring the line between reality and imagination.
Silke Otto-Knapp “Land and Sea”, Regan Projects, Los Angeles
I adore Silke’s large scale landscape and figure watercolors on canvas. She has a very interesting technique of laying down thin layers of paint and washing paint away to build a surface that gives her paintings a dream like, eerie, early cinematic quality. She is very interested in dance which I find curious and interesting as a subject for paintings. I also loved the greyscale rainbow in one of the landscapes.
Merce Cunningham “Clouds and Screens”, LACMA, Los Angeles
I love Cunningham’s dances. I particularly enjoyed revisiting “Summerspace.” This was one of the works he collaborated on with artist Robert Rauschenberg. Rauschenberg created the backdrop and costumes, which are both made of the same colorful dot pattern. Though this work is dance it still relates to some of the ideas I think about in my work. Because of the chameleon nature of this piece there is a question of figure and ground, a confusion is created between surface and depth (body and space). This is one of the ideas at the core of my paintings.
Laura Owens, MoCA, Los Angeles
Laura has been one of the most influential artists for me since I first saw her work in 2001 when I moved out to Los Angeles for art school. She had a “mid career” survey at MoCA in 2003 at the age of only 30. Paintings I saw in that show remain some of the most important paintings that I still think about today. They certainly influenced my work at that time, and furthered ideas I was exploring about how artists view art in museums, the literal space of painting and the history of painting as a place to insert the self. I loved revisiting some of that early work as well as some of her newer work that is just incredible, bold and irreverent. She is a painter who really dismantles and points to how paintings and images work, as well as playfully inserts herself and her agenda into the history of Painting with a capital “P” with a sense of humor that takes away any of its grandeur and makes it all her own.
Matt Paweski “Look out, Switch - Switch, Couples, Fountain”, Park View / Paul Soto Gallery, Los Angeles
Matt and I went to grad school together, he was a few terms above me. I was a fan of his work then, and it has only gotten better. I love his use of shape, line and color. His work is a wonderful mix of the industrial that for me is so influenced by Los Angeles - full of optimism and utopian ideals but somehow ends up ambiguous or not quite realized - works that at times lean close to possibly being esoteric objects or tools for some sort of ritual of making (food, other sculptures, parts?) - hints of the design of public spaces and city planning - a wink at Italian Futurism with one eye on the body and its gestures and the other on creating a place for our emotions to find a home outside of ourselves. I stand in front of them always wanting to know - How do I use this? And always thinking - I want this.