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Los Angeles
Larry_bell_aaaaa_108_2007_1877_119
Larry Bell
Frank Lloyd Gallery
Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., B5B, Santa Monica, CA 90404
February 8, 2008 - March 8, 2008


Larry Bell: Modern Mystic
by Angel Chen


Larry Bell is a true artist’s artist, an experimenter and pusher of envelopes. Sitting in his Venice studio, the same one on Market Street he occupied in the 70’s, he affirms his method of allowing the artwork to dictate its own personality, and how it wants to be seen. After decades of personal retreat to Taos, New Mexico, Larry Bell is back on the front-burner of the LA art scene. With a personal vocabulary consisting of light, space, perception, reflection, refraction, and color, the most recent show at Frank Lloyd Gallery embodies the transparence and airy quality of glass and metal, now on paper.

Known and loved for his inconel coated glass cubes, Bell’s work fits in equally well among Minimalists, California Light and Space artists, Los Angeles Finish Fetishists, and the ultra-cool Venice gang that came into being at the Ferus Gallery in the 60’s including contemporaries Ed Moses, Robert Irwin, Billy Al Bengston, and Kenneth Price, to name a few.


Technically these are collages, works on paper utilizing laminated layers compressed with a ping-pong table size heat press that vaporizes all sandwiched materials inside into a shiny flattened panel. The result? It is not a flat picture, nor is it a flattened sculpture, but it is a triumph of the favorite trick of all 2-D artists, to make appear the illusion of the third dimension.

Part sci-fi experiment, part modern physics, and pure joy, these works on paper curl, swell, and swirl with texture, depth, volume, luminosity and the quality of time. The vertical panes of vacuum deposited thin films of silicon monoxide interfere with the light similar to a quartz prism. This interference results in the phenomenon we experience as color. Eerie futuristic mirages appear as if doorways to the other side. Somehow the pieces evoke mirror images as if silently telepathically speaking directly to the viewer a hidden message, rippling in the iridescent multicolored metallurgy.

His carefully constructed presentation cases for optimal viewing, use an angled front glass panel so that upon direct effacement with the work, one is not confronted with a 90 degree angle, and with it the glare of the glass. The black sides carefully shadowbox the mystical containment within, also shielding the viewer from engaging in too much information at once. In an installation view of 17 images in the show, it is possible to have intimate moments with each piece one at a time.



Here in the studio space where he established himself as a Venice artist 30 years ago, his setup consists of highly fragile and ephemeral glass artworks hovering on invisible pedestals, massive production machinery, a 5-foot tall compressed air tank for blowing dust off art, bronze sculptures, works on paper mounted on every wall, and a gnarled burlwood cluster of lilypads functioning as a floating desk. No matter what the material, there is the feeling that anything Larry Bell touches has the ability to float and hover weightlessly above the reality of its material surface.

- Angel Chen


(*Images, from top to bottom: Larry Bell, Larry Bell: Works on Paper, February 8 - March 8, 2008; Frank Lloyd Gallery, AAAAA 108, 2007, mixed media on paper, 44 1/2 x 30 inches, Photo by Alan Schaffer, Courtesy of Frank Lloyd Gallery. Larry Bell, Larry Bell: Works on Paper, February 8 - March 8, 2008; Frank Lloyd Gallery, AAAAA 62, 2007, mixed media on paper, 42 3/4 x 32 1/4 inches, Photo by Alan Schaffer, Courtesy of Frank Lloyd Gallery. Larry Bell, Larry Bell: Works on Paper, February 8 - March 8, 2008; Frank Lloyd Gallery, R 24, 2007, mixed media on paper, 39 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches, Photo by Alan Schaffer, Courtesy of Frank Lloyd Gallery. Larry Bell, Larry Bell: Works on Paper, February 8 - March 8, 2008; Frank Lloyd Gallery, AAAAA 54, 2007, mixed media on paper, 42 3/4 x 32 1/4 inches, Photo by Alan Schaffer, Courtesy of Frank Lloyd Gallery. Larry Bell, Larry Bell: Works on Paper, February 8 - March 8, 2008; Frank Lloyd Gallery, Larry Bell in Studio, Photo by Angel Chen, 2008.)



Posted by Angel Chen on 2/24/08

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