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Los Angeles

LA Fall Previews: Indian Summer
by Andrew Berardini

Motorbike to cemetery, Picnic on wild berries...
We'll come back for Indian Summer
We'll come back for Indian Summer
We'll come back for Indian Summer
Cover me with rain.

Beat Happening, Indian Summer

Dip your fingers into the Southwestern paint box and if you run them through the sky across a smeary summer, you'll leave a trail that leads straight to autumn. Rust reds and creamy umbers, a flicker of primrose and pinks that might make a conch shell blush, all flow handily into the brown leaves of red October dusks. Out in California all those fingerpaints get seeped through smog and when they arrive under twilight, we're caught watching days turn to night like summer's children, skin still naked to a warmth that refuses to quit, heading to evening art openings in short sleeves and gauzy dresses. The summer's over and we all have to stumble back to work, or at least set our minds firmly away from that passing season’s sultry pleasures.

Summer's over, but it doesn’t have to be. All that summer concupiscence ends up here in Los Angeles this autumn in the undulating sculptures of Ken Price (which would be downright pornographic if they weren't actually abstract) at LACMA. They end up with Salome dancing under the darting fingers of Gustave Moreau as the Hammer Museum spotlights the painting that mesmerized Des Esseintes in Against the Grain and this writer everytime he sees it. Salome's sexual vitality enshrined in a jewel box and lusted over by the graying skeleton of Herod. Or it's in the clashing patterns and electric colors of Sarah Cain's fugitive paintings opening at Honor Fraser. It’s in the tie-dyed landscapes of Friedrich Kunath over at Blum and Poe.

As John Berger wrote in his essay, "The White Bird": Art does not imitate nature, it imitates a creation, sometimes to propose an alternative world, sometimes simply to amplify, to confirm, to make social the brief hope offered by nature. Art is an organized response to what nature allows us to glimpse occasionally. Art sets out to transform the potential recognition into an unceasing one.

Summer is over. But not the art of summer, of throbbing and pendulous creation, of fruit heavy with nectar and flower petals peeled back and ready, of all the possibilities of a summer night, of life. Fall comes, work settles our passions and ties it to desks; the chill in the air reminds us that the night is no longer about possibility, the freedom of darkness but the possibility of death. Plump with color and full of life, art is an assertion of life, of warmth, of summer and its possibilities even as we know in our bones winter is coming.

But I assure you, Ken Price’s sculptures look all the sexier with a fall chill.

Andrew Berardini

(Image: Ken Price, Zizi, 2011, Fired and painted clay, 16 ½ x 24 x 17 in.; Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Purchased with funds provided by the Modern and Contemporary Art Acquisition Fund and gift of Matthew Marks; © Ken Price, Photo © Fredrik Nilsen)


Posted by Andrew Berardini on 9/5/12 | tags: mixed-media sculpture

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