The detritus of downtown Los Angeles - domestic goods, wooden furniture, industrial and construction debris - are the primary materials for Linda Franke’s Access to Nameless Hazards. Animations, sculptures, soundtracks, collages, and masks are intermixed with starkly-lit installations that double as stage-sets for performers. A performance video runs on a loop near the entry to the exhibit. In each of several installations the performer repeats an action, which leaves them trapped in a ridiculous motion, or reduces them from a living body into an element of sculpture. A few of the interactions include: a performer standing between two doors in an open wooden frame frantically, but futilely, turning the door knobs as if trying to escape; a performer lying motionless on the floor with her arm through a cylindrical hole in a log; a man standing with his chin and forearms resting on a dingy trestle covered with painted plaster. As installations without performers, these compositions of objects project a sense of absence - a need for the body to become a part of the space to satisfy it, to fill the void.
In one sculpture, a discarded wooden dining chair’s legs grow into curling tendrils. An animation shows a similar chair stretching and distorting, like a live animal. In another work plaster has been poured through the rim of a plastic basketball goal, as if the shot of the basketball was liquid that petrified. The ball is on the floor, cast in concrete. On video, a performer slowly kicks the ball, but it’s weight makes it slow to move, impossible to throw. In another sculpture with a corresponding animation peach-colored forms envelop a wooden coffee table, softly smothering it, only it’s legs and corners visible.
Surrounding the aforementioned sculpture were a series of masks paired with collages. The masks were plaster with latex, each face with the eyes closed, each treated to either an additive or subtractive process. One has cheeks eroded as if by acidic tears, one has a growth like a fungi, one a false nose, one is a nearly complete obliteration. The collages, with found imagery and frames dialogue with the masks, the subjects and forms reflected in each face.
Access to Nameless Hazards left me thinking about the objects in the direct environment and the meaning discarded materials inherently carry with them. I felt a sinister absence, and a sense of personal loss. This void was both filled and accentuated by the idea of the performers and the spaces they left behind.
In my favorite arrangement in the exhibit, the heavy, frond-less crown of a palm tree was wedged inside an an old black rolling suitcase. I imagined myself laboriously pulling the suitcase behind me, walking away from the gallery, the awkwardly shaped palm crown sticking out, it’s weight tipping the balance of the wheels, part rolling, part dragging. I imagined that I would keep walking, through the industrial areas, the homeless encampments, the abandoned buildings of Los Angeles, with this crown in a suitcase, rolling, dragging, rolling, dragging, the scrape of the concrete the soundtrack.
Lester Monzon: Si vis pacem para bellum Jason Salavon: All The Ways Through Saturday, April 9 Mark Moore Gallery
Jason Salavon custom wallpaper from All the Ways
Lester Monzon, Untitled, 11x14
I was at Mark Moore Gallery to see Jason Salavon’s All the Ways- an exhibit of abstract works created from the endless variations of data resulting from pop culture phenomenon. The long-running television show, The Simpsons, is the primary data source for this exhibit, and the element that piqued my curiosity in the first place. Salavon used various data manipulations to create several wall works, and three bound books, which held his data expressions of the nearly 600 episodes of the Simpsons. The books, titled “All The Ways” Volume 1-3, reduced each episode to a series of lines or colored grids. The only hints at the original source material was the episode titles on each page, and the colors of the books - their covers in yellow, blue and vermilion-red - iconic Simpsons character colors. The way the data overtook and erased the greater concept of its original subject was conceptually intriguing, but the dismantling of a cultural icon into pure meaninglessness resulted in work that was purposefully sterile. All The Waysleft me with an intense need to see something that would counteract the terrible feeling that algorithms would ultimately destroy human culture. Luckily, that something was in the same gallery.
It was Lester Monzon’s exhibit of small abstract paintings, Si vis pacem para bellum, an explosion of strokes and textures beautifully intertwined on a bed of thickly applied gesso that had been sanded smooth. The exhibit title, which translates to “if you want peace, prepare for war” captures the feeling of chaos and order within the paintings - architectural, gridded pencil lines and porous, smooth, white spaces balance color-filled, impasto jumbles of painted shape and line.
There is so much packed into this work, and Monzon fits it all beautifully. Most of the paintings are 11 x 14, with a few at approximately 20 x 30 . Often small abstract paintings can feel crowded, muddy or unfinished but Monzon avoids all this. The color feels pure and extreme, the gestures of the brush feel as grand and alive as if they were painted with the movement of the entire body. The contrast between the winding layers of paint, the calculated pencil lines and the blank spaces build a depth in these paintings that could be endlessly explored: the eye moving from a dense stroke of neon orange, green, white and yellow to a smooth turquoise pool, which wraps into layers of thick ropes of paint, obliterating, then revealing ordered graphite lines. In these paintings the minimal, sparse and organized collides with the messy, complex and tumultuous - but instead of complete disaster there is harmony. I felt that I could look at these works for hours - getting lost inside the color, texture and contrast, finding myself again in the way such disparate elements could coexist. Si vis pacem para bellum- a reminder of a world that is simultaneously chaotic and orderly, a world that makes its own destructions and remedies. Both exhibits are on view through April 9 at Mark Moore gallery, 5790 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA. I shot the few pictures above and below while I was visiting the gallery. Please see the links below for more photos of the artist's work. More of Lester Monzon's work at Mark Moore here. More of Jason Salavon's work at Mark Moore here.
Jason Salavon, All the Ways, Vol 1-3
Jason Salavon, All the Ways book detail, Episode 155: You Only Move Twice