'Jerry Bear' by Josh Jefferson.

Culver City Arts District January Review

January 11, 2018

There was a flurry of openings in Culver City’s arts district last Saturday night, which brought about a sheer eclecticism of artistry. Its always a joyous occasion to see such diversity in contemporary art, from the novelty in the media to the compositional matter.

 

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The first gallery at bat, Walter Maciel Gallery, housed simply a haunting mausoleum of ostensibly mummified animals and darkly inspired cartoonish heads with the exhibition titled Interlopers by artist Robb Putnam. The curation strategically imposed a set of vertically hung bears, with ominous and gloomy colored fur, with a few almost mockingly bubble-gum wrapped. It is not the feeling of cobwebs which drapes each creatures’ death pose and hang-up, but a sense that these animals were recovered from a bog graveyard. And it is that sense of preservation against decay which is central to the pieces.

 

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It is not encouraging necrosis, however; that is no matter how much resists or evades the reality of the finality or finitude of life, it cannot be escaped. It is a deathly hollow, paired with a pitch-black canine accompanying the works in the exhibition; I typically discourage against artworks which do not affirm life, yet is this such the case here? Do we have a moribund statement, a lamentable shriek that all is vanity? Or do we have a gentle gaze into the abyss, a prick of the cognizance of our mortality and its preciousness? I do not see a desecration of life, despite the deathly meditation. I see an affirmation of living life, but more, living an authentic one. One that is not draped in synthetic pink, but one that aims at living nakedly awesome – because life is too precious to live under the rubric crafted by someone else. No doubt most subjects will intrinsically lurch away from the corpses, but that I think is a success.

 

Next we had an interesting experiment with texture at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles by André Hemer.  The pseudo-floral compositions which served a mainly decorative appearance, with a general representation of muted colors, were accentuated by dollops of paint.

 

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It was pleasant to capture by the eye as the fat-swell of paint which almost begged to be smeared was able to glisten, iridescently, giving therefore a satisfied articulation of what texture within a painting can be. Because typically with texture we connote the tactile rather than the visual. But here, the orbs which progressed from solid colors to glitter-glamour excitations – yet never to subdue the lead actor which is the background mythological-chaos – are beacons of light, with some having been wounded – or perhaps germinated? – to be reminiscent of mother of pearl.

 

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It is thusly a successful experimentation to be able to emulate nature in such a beautiful manner.

 

What will be curious to see is if the painted pebble stones ever develop their own centre of gravity in the works, having a genuine interplay between background and foreground to further add to the advancement of the idea of texture by also enabling it to contribute to the playfulness with space in the work.

 

Last but certainly not least was a pleasant surprise to discover Josh Jefferson @ Zevitas Marcus. His work is immediately felt as psychedelic, akin to rorschach tests on acid.

 

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But this feeling is masterfully contained with a minimalist style, so it does not appear erratic and intemperate. It feels, then, animated, actively fermenting on the canvas. The organisms are aided no doubt by the wonderful starbursts of contrasting colors which act to focus the subject’s eyes on these mesmerizing swirling brews.

 

One outlier is Jerry Bear (see very bottom), which I can’t help but be reminded of Roy de Forest’s own See Through Jane (immediately below):

 

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This could be considered the exhibit’s magnum opus, as the effort – which succeeds – is the most challenging. It is a genuine and worthy representation of contemporary art. Beautiful, yes, but playfully challenging at our concept of what does it mean for a thing to beautiful? It is expanding our horizons by being so implausibly cohesive. The density of moving pieces in this delicious clockwork, upon meditation, almost leads one to a sense of anxiety before arriving at awe at how majestic the order is. It is but a newfound portraiture of nature; testimony to some semblance of advancement of the human race past fawning over pastoral landscapes; that our demands now for wonder require such a talent as Mr. Jefferson to privilege us with a peephole into the transcendent.

 

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