Featuring the Magnificent Seven
Michael Arata, Sacha Halona Baumann, Les Biller, Peter Liashkov, Lena Moross, Marianne Sadowski, Keith Walsh, HK Zamani
August 13, - September 2, 2022
Artist Reception - Saturday, August 20, 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
What — between the swelter of late summer and Labor Day when the only thing anyone wants to do is drink gin and tonics, eat ice cream or Italian ices, paddle out over ocean waves, or fall asleep in their beach books or air-conditioned cineplexes (oh that’s right—we mostly don’t go to movies anymore) — does a group of artists, some friends, some studio-mates, all eager to connect with friends and one another, do? Just because the time isn’t quite right for dancing in the street doesn’t mean it isn’t right for a show. Maybe even some dancing while we’re looking at it.
The eight artists included here are all process-oriented, each freely cultivating eccentricities that put them slightly off-center in L.A.’s unrelenting churn of ideas, innovation, and exploitation. I mean, what say we just cut a few things up and see where they fall on the page? We exaggerate—and yet.
Take Michael Arata, whose mid-career retrospective was mounted as a Coney Island amusement park of body-conscious displacements actual and conceptual, including a room of boomeranging objects actually meant to be kicked or hurled about. It’s more complicated than that but start with the most basic premise, frame or silhouette, and the complications of the day, week or season will carry you through your inevitable melt-down to a place where you can cool off again.
Sacha Halona Baumann appropriates, fractures, and dissects printed photographic, design or other graphic material—frequently luxury advertising of a certain vintage—to be re-choreographed into surreal configurations with effects ranging from the abstractly enigmatic to the theatrically psychological.
Then there’s Les Biller, whose lush paintings have always suggested a kind of luxe, calme, et volupté possible only in a Matisse or perhaps some lush tropical garden (blame it on Hawaii). This is a verdant domain L.A. eyes are starved for; a sunlit world we can (literally) only dream of because the reality is carcinogenic.
Not unlike Baumann and others in the show, Peter Liashkov’s painting is similarly layered and textured. Largely figurative imagery seems almost randomly placed—souvenirs ‘accidentally’ retrieved or recovered amid more deliberately placed elements. The works are palimpsests, with discernible traces of memories far removed from the works’ composed imagery.
Lena Moross, whose graphic style has deep roots in Russian 20th century graphics and illustration by way of Paris, not unlike Baumann and Liashkov both, makes a kind of theatre out of the random treasures to be retrieved from kitsch—in this instance, ceramic figurines of dancers and ballerinas—here swept up and rushed back to their moments in an imaginary spotlight.
Marianne Sadowski is also engaged in a project of recovery and recomposition, through multiple layers in various media—photography, drawing, painting—of elements found in both urban and rural landscapes, and remnants of the natural world; and occasionally castaway human remnants (or their shadows).
Keith Walsh, well-known for his historio- and cartographic dissections of political and economic power as well as musical multi-tasking, takes his approach one step further for a post-truth political order, shuffling his usually razor-sharp graphic markings like a deck of cards, splaying and splashing them like Jasper Johns or Glenn Ligon locked into a bridge game to the death.
HK Zamani is back with his protagonists, antagonists and the dueling voids between them, here reduced to their schematic, essential elements, the whole of it etched out with a few sharp lines and minimal color. It’s a stand-off and no one’s going anywhere because it’s too damned hot and we’re all melting down.
At LA TATE, the time is always right now.
LA TATE GALLERY is located at 4816 West Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016;
Gallery Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.