Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fairytale in Berlin at Scion Space, Art of Two Germanys: Cold War Cultures at LACMA, and UCLA Open Studios in Culver City

Both Germany and Berlin have emerged from the tumultuous 20th Century to become one of the world art centers in the 21st Century. Two exhibits showing right now portray the vitality and dynamism of Modern and Contemporary German art.

The first show, Fairytale in Berlin, showing at Scion Space, closes soon on February 7th. This show is a must see. The exhibit shows 10 artist and one artist collective all working in Berlin. "Fairytale of Berlin associates itself with the legend of life within Berlin's sub-cultural niches, the place yearned by many migrated creatively. And of course does especially this art scene of Berlin have grave downsides in store for the art producers, having to deal with an increasing surplus of art being only one example. The show wants to reflect this situation where aspiration and reality often collide.
(Showing) Berlin-born artists as well as national and international "art-exiles" - the chosen artists have their origins in Germany, Romania, Canada, Switzerland, Bulgaria and the United States. They join in identifying with living and working in Berlin albeit in the most different of ways, all together creating a subtle and fresh approach: Berlin as a new or old home is the common source of inspiration and friction.
The artists of the show also represent different art scenes within Berlin, covering various art genres and techniques." Not only does the show represent Berlin's current art scene, the artist's work also link and show influences to Berlin's past. From Expressionism, Dada, Constructivism, to post modernism, Berlin has payed a significant role in the development and forming of these art movements. Christl Murdrak's installation shows influences of Kurt Schwitter's Murzbau combined with psychedelia and Op art. Erik Anderson, Franziska Klotz, Iva Vacheva, Mari Lou and Paul Bogati are definitely influenced by German Expressionism and by New Objective realism. The Neulant/Van Exel collective show influences of Constructivism and Bauhaus movements. The photography in this show by Ingo Mittelstaedt is excellent. His works portray still lifes and genre scenes that remind one of Thomas Struth, and Thomas Demand The show is curated by Janine Bean of the Janine Bean Gallery in Berlin. The show is a statement of the dynamism and vitality of the Berlin art scene. Looking at the works, presentation and speaking with the artist on the night of the opening, I feel a sense of optimism about the creative spirit that survives the worst of times, especially the events of the 20th century. If you do not get a chance to see the exhibit, check out the website. It has press, photos, links and a downloadable catalog.

The next show I went to was Art of the Two Germanys: Cold War Cultures at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The show curated by Stephanie Barron, is a survey show of art from both West and East Germany between the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The show is impressive. I loved the work of A.R Penck, Anselm Kiefer, George Baselitz, Joseph Beuys Gerhard Richter and other notable German artist that worked both in the East and West. What amazed me about the show was the artistic activity happening in East Germany. The show portrays the usual social realist works you would expect in a totalitarian communist country. However, what was even more compelling was the work of Hermann Glockner, who outside the demands of the State and the government control of art, was able to make tiny sculptures out of everyday objects. These were called his table top sculptures. Mostly abstract, they show a side of art production in East Germany that was resistant to the oppression of the state. The show is on until April 19th. I will definitely will be going back and write more about this wonderful and compelling exhibition of German art, where two Germanys separated by ideology were able to connect with each other artistically, culturally and eventually politically.

Last Saturday, I went to the twice annual Open Studio for the UCLA MFA program. Located in Culver City, the open studios are a maze of studios and galleries where emerging artist produce art and start their careers in the art world. The artist that stood out the most were Ann McCaddon, Katie Aliprando, Sarah Awad, Jennifer Gradecki, Michael Dopp, and Jacob Tillman. What amazed me the most was the almost dominence of painting in the program. I did like the painting that I saw. I was also amazed at the photography in the studios that I went into. Good works overall. To get more information, go the UCLA Department of Art website.

Pic of the Week 01/18/2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pic of the Week 01/11/09

A New Year and Gallery Openings for January 10, 2009

I'm back.

Due to the holidays, I did not update my blog. To those who follow, I apologize. I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and a Happy New Year. Before I start with the gallery openings that I went to on January 10th, I just want to say a few words about 2008.

2008 was mixed bag year. This country saw an election of a new president and an economic crisis of epic proportions. The art work here in Los Angeles was not immune to the changes that happened. This last year Los Angeles saw the closing of some of the best galleries in the area. Elizabeth Oliveria, Black Dragon, DEN, Fringe and Anna Helwig all closed. These spaces will be missed and I hope to see them back again in the future. Gallery shows last year were really good. I hope the quality of the gallery shows continue.

With regards to the areas museums, MOCA had a really strong year despite their financial situation. I saw one of the best surveys of the permanant collection in the exhibit "Collecting Collections." Other shows at MOCA that were noteworthy were the Lawrence Weiner and Marlene Dumas retrospectives and Index, a survey of California Conceptual art. At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the two best shows were the Hearst Collection and reinstallation of both the Ancient Americas and the Modern art sections of their permanant collection. I also really like the collaboration of LACMA and Machine Projects, when Machine Projects were allowed to take over the museum. The result was great contemporary art on all levels. It was a Cabret Voltaire for new century. Although the art in new Broad Contemporary were a mixed bag, the space and the architecture were amazing. I look forward to the new exhibit on German Art during the Cold War coming later this month. I also went to the California Biennial at Orange County Museum of Art, which was wonderful survey of contemporary California Art of this time.

I am looking forward to this new year.

Now to the gallery openings for January 10, 2009.

The year starts off really strong with the first night of gallery openings since the New Year.

I first went to the galleries showing at the Miracle Mile area on Wilshire Blvd.
ACME gallery showed the newest work of Monique Prieto. In her lasted works, Monique continues her investigation of language as comunicated in painting and the tension between words as image and abstraction. In these works, she uses more abstraction than language, sort of looking back at her earlier work of pure abstraction. It is a definately a must see. Showing thru Feb. 2, 2009.
ACME.6150 Wilshire Blvd.Los Angeles, California 90048T: 323 857 5942

The other show that I really enjoyed on Wilshire Blvd. was Carl Berg. Carl Berg showed three artist; Richard Wilson, Donnie Molls, and John Mullin.
Wilson's work consists of paintings that are almost in sculptural in their composition and media. They are abstract in nature with various monchrome colors contructed on top of each other. Per the press of the show it states.
"Wilson paintings are abstract color fields composed of several panels of varying sizes and depths forming large vertical abstractions. His paintings combine time, light, color and atmospheric effects, which are inspired by nature, music and childhood memories. California’s nature and its abundant color have inspired his works over the years. Music on the other hand has added rhythm and order to his paintings. In his newest body of paintings, which he calls “Rises.” He continues his concerns, along with a focus, for the first time on vertical construction. He became interested in what the effect of the painting taking a standing position would have on the reading of color, space, and movement. His previous work always seemed to conform to gravity, while the new paintings indicated action in opposition to it." I did like this show. The other two artist were also strong in their works. In Donnie Molls show entitled "An American Heritage," Molls explores subciltures of American life. In his latest work, he explores the act of hunting and the part it has played in American life and culture. Paintings were well done and show hunters in various poses with their game. In the back room are John Mullins photos of what looks like extraterrestrial or UFO sightings. They are not. Mullins seeks to explore the urban night sky of Los Angeles of lights. His work is more concerned with the etherial nature of the urban sky and the ambient effects that planes and aircraft produce in relation to the effects of the natural colors of the sky. Another must see from Carl Berg. Showing thru Feb. 7, 2009
Carl Berg Gallery, 6018 Wilshire Boulevard Los Angeles CA 90036, tel: 323-931-6060

The next stop was Culver City. There were three shows in Culver City that really stood out. Two of these exhibits showed abstraction and the other was of figurative works.
The abstraction shows were Ryan Callis at Taylor Cordoba and Lester Monzon at Kinkead Contemporary.

Lester Monzon's show entitled "Do Not Alter," was very well done. Monzons work likes to play with a tension between the hard edge, almost decorative, abstraction and the expressionistic aspect of abstract painting. His paintings are a mine field of hard edged geometric abstraction and brush strokes that shows almost an explosion of color and action. The tension is there and the viewer is left following and falling into the vast picture frame of patterns and explosions of action. Definately a must see. Thru Feb. 14, 2009.
Kinkead Contemporary, 6029 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232, T 310 838 7400,

The next show is from Ryan Callis at Taylor de Cordoba. Callis' paintings are full of tension between abstration and the figurative. But there is more than tension in his work. He is trying to commincate a new language created out of codes, images and color. The result of this concept creates paintings that are visually stunning and beautiful. Go. Thru Feb. 14th, 2009.
Taylor De Cordoba, 2660 S. LA CIENEGA BLVD.,LOS ANGELES, CA 90034, T. 310.559.9156,

The show that most stood out in Culver City was Becca Mann at Roberts and Tilton. Manns paintings use images, primarily photos from the Russian royal family taken during or right before the Russian Revolution. Her paintings are meditiative pieces on the detachment between history and the daily lives of those who will soon suffer the fate of those historical forces. Mann, with the use of photorealism, displays a sophisticated way of portraying the life and history. I think this was the best show of the night.
Roberts and Tilton, 5801 Washington Boulevard Culver City, California 90232 T 323.549.0223,

Next was Chinatown.

There were two shows that I liked in Chinatown. The first was Loren Sanvick at Acuna Hansen. Sandvick's sculpture attempts to re-create a cave with stalagtites and stalagmites. The sculpures are made glass and turns the gallery into a cave environment. Very good show.
Acuna Hansen Gallery, 427 Bernard Street, Los Angeles, CA 90042, T. 323-441-1624,

The last show I went to was at Sister Gallery. The gallery press release says it best, "Kirsten Stoltmann has a tendency of getting things wrong. For her second solo exhibition with Sister, Motivational Posters and Meditation Sculptures, she is desperately trying to get it right. This new body of work employs over-used and abused tropes of swinger pornography, suburban craft, sports car masculinity, meditational sculptures and Tourette’s like poetics. In an attempt to exercise New Age sentiment through self-loathing and inspirational denigration, Stoltmann's efforts at reflection are always thwarted by her passive aggressive sincerity, humor, and self-depreciation." I like her work. Her work is humorous and self depracating. She also critiques a therpeutic society where motivation is a key to success. The works are well done technically. This is definately a must see. Thru Feb. 7, 2009
Sister, 955 Chung King Road Los Angeles, CA 90012
T 213 628 7000,

An Interview with Katja Seib

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