Jesse Fleming at The Finley Gallery and L'Idée Fixe at Steve Turner Contemporary
The tangible vs. the intangible
Architecturally, the Finley adapts to the facade of the building—situated while seemingly floating in space.
Imminently, the Finley imitates the quiet intangibility of William Leavitt´s shape shifting dreamscapes (pulsating purple plays with the inhibited greenery of garden plants), the poetics of Hollywood sets along with the untidy narrative of the Los Angeles landscape.
Literally, the Finley is a gallery in an apartment building hallway.
A small glass-faced bulletin board on the building’s facade announces with moveable plastic letters: ´´JESSE FLEMING 1 TO 5 TO 1 / FINLEY GALLERY´´. Just past the grass to the right of the apartment building’s main entrance way, two concrete steps welcome the spectator to the space / non-space or hallway as you will, where the artist has installed a sublime exercise on meditation, memory, and time.
Two moving disks visually bounce and blend with the two adjoining walls where the work hangs. One counts from 1 to 5 back to 1 as a kind of clock that’s always moving backward to forward, constantly having to recount its own memory. The second disk mimics the walls where the work hangs, a division of mustard yellow and white, though still a few feet above where the wall actually divides from one color to the next. On a second glance, the red on the numbered disk relates to the red of an emergency sign pinned to the wall; all the spinners relate weirdly to their space, crashing interpretation with reality. (Even perhaps slyly referencing a previous exhibition in the space of clocks made by painter Laura Owens.)
While the Finley forces you to peek in through a window, the exhibition organized by Sayre Gomez across town is all about looking out of them.
John Divola, Zuma #20, 1977/2006, Epson pigment print on Crane silver rag paper, 24 x 30 inches; Courtesy the artist
Titled L´Idée Fixe, after the René Magritte painting from 1927 which depicts four different scenes of a moment and memory through the four panes of a window frame. Pictures have an almost cliched quality as windows to another world, but here the three artists on view (John Divola, Joe Goode, and Gomez) all fuck with the illusion of space and the possibility of truth in what we see there.
From 1974 to 1977, John Divola, forced out of his studio, photographed a decaying beach house in Southern California, making for a weirdly compelling new perspective of the studio, the eye, the landscape as canvas. His Zuma Beach Series photographs not only meditate on the act of looking over time as the architecture crumbles with every visit, but also on the ways we look at the studio as a place of invention and the photograph as a document of reality. Divola not only documents, but also participates in the destruction/vandalism of this abandoned house.
Cool School artist Joe Goode romanticizes abstraction through his paintings of blue crush skies framed under glass. And has over a long career used the Pop readymade of the milk bottle as one of many “things” to look through. His work on view (from Goode’s Vandalism series) explores perception; a perfect blue sky carefully rendered is purposely vandalized allowing a peek beneath the surface of the painting, and perhaps, the distortions of reality.
Reminding us that paintings and photographs often get placed under glass by conservators trying to protect the fugitive prints and pigments, but that glass with its spectral reflections is just another window pane.
Serving as a division and connection (of the real and the abstract) with the other artworks in the space, Sayre Gomez’s piece literally cuts out a window from the wall that an earlier renovation had previously covered to give the gallery another open wall to hang art. Still ostensibly closed, as the artist has slathered it in a skin of filter and peeling paint, the window as a portal or a structure hits a perfect tension.
Whether the work becomes part of the imposed framework of the gallery wall, an architectural malfunction, or an ode to the readymade, the intervention of space and hidden structures that Gomez´s work uncovers opens up, in a very literal use of the phrase, a new way to see.
(Image on top: Jesse Fleming, 1 to 5 to 1 / Finley Gallery, 2012, two motorized, 4 ft. discs, installation shot at The Finley Gallery; Courtesy the artist and The Company, Los Angeles)