Art Los Angeles Contemporary opens this week—arguably the West Coast's key commercial event for the year, especially for local galleries who feature heavily in the line-up. Looking at artwork in an art fair can be a bit like viewing art on the internet: the structure often strips work of its full effect. To remedy the fatigue of serial image consumption—and give more credit to the artists, looking past their works' obvious marketability and apparent aesthetic trends—we're giving you something to chew over for the artists we've picked out from the 2016 edition of ALAC. Consume with a bit of context.
Anne Neukamp at Valentin, Paris
Neukamp’s enormous pictograms definitely deserve to be seen in the flesh to unpack their deliberate layers: she uses nameable images—taken from stickers, logos, postcards—and painting, to force abstraction and representation to meet and fight it out with a seriously funky outcome on the canvas.
Sojourner Truth Parsons at Night Gallery, Los Angeles
If, like us, you like artists who have a healthy shot of misanthropic humor in their spleen, you should take a look at the work of Sojourner Truth Parsons. It looks naive and folksy at first, but the more you see the more you get a sense of the grim strangeness of life. You’ll learn a little more about the artist too looking at the work of her partner Brad Phillips—a sometime ArtSlant contributor, and painter—who has said his work is much inspired by his relationship with Parsons.
Rachel de Joode at Neumeister Bar-Am, Berlin
It’s apt that we’ve chosen to expand a little on Rachel de Joode's work, presented by Berlin-based gallery Neumeister Bar-Am. The artist works in photography and sculpture to explore the relationship between two dimensions and three, and examine that common context of contemporary art, when it’s constantly flattened by our screens.
Marcel van Eeden at Clint Roenisch, Toronto
Clint Roenisch gallery, Toronto, are presenting a solo booth of work by Dutch artist Marcel van Eeden. We love his hand reproductions of old photographs—he has an extensive archive of images that all predate his birth in 1965—and especially his Noir-meets-Pop lithography catalogues of desserts and cream cakes. His works are usually arranged into a storyline, but it won’t necessarily unfold as a logical narrative.
Cheryl Donegan at Ashes/Ashes, Los Angeles
Out of context this is a quite nice, faded check painting by New Yorker Cheryl Donegan, a video artist and painter who has been making art with vigorous humor since the 80s. But this painting from 2013, on show with other works by Donegan at the Ashes/Ashes booth, represents a return to painting for the artist and an interest in high fashion—patterns, textiles, and surface—that make an object or image attractive.
Aaron Morse at ACME, Los Angeles
The lush colors of Aaron Morse’s canvases translate well for an online viewership, but expect the large paintings to stand out in the flesh this week as well. Morse’s tropical tableaux and new cartographic canvases are seductive, for sure, but with their mixed source materials—encyclopedic imagery of flora, fauna, natural systems, and topographies—they also metabolize histories of conquest, colonization, and ecological destruction.
Tamar Halpern at On Stellar Rays, New York City
Tamar Halpern, Broken Toys, 2014, UltraChrome ink and archival paper on linen, 68 x 58 in. Courtesy of On Stellar Rays
Tamar Halpern’s layered works on linen synthesize digital and mechanical modes of production with the physicality of painting, the human gesture. Crossing that increasingly porous digital/physical divide, her works perfectly exemplify some of the most enduring trends we’re expecting at ALAC this year. Are they paintings? Photographs? Collage? Are they abstract? Representational? Sure!
Derek Paul Boyle at Smart Objects, Los Angeles
Installation view of Derek Paul Boyle, Salt and Pennies, 2015, Dye Sublimation Aluminum Print, 36 x 60 in. Courtesy of Smart Objects
Derek Paul Boyle is great because he finds hilarious juxtapositions between ordinary, banal objects that bring out qualities, textures, and meanings that you’d never thought of before. That’s why we also listed his show at Smart Objects, a great physical space for net-based artists in East LA, as one our shows to see in North America last Autumn. Check out his Instagram project Meatwreck—a collaboration with artist Mitra Saboury—too.
Barbara Kasten at Galerie Kadel Willborn, Düsseldorf
Long before the illusory “Photography Is Magic” trends characterizing image-making today, Barbara Kasten was staging theatrical abstractions, taking photographs that conflate sculpture, photography, and assemblage. Her widely acclaimed 2015 ICA Philadelphia solo, Barbara Kasten: Stages, travels to LA's MOCA Pacific Design Center in May, but this week fair-goers will get a sneak peek at work demonstrating Kasten’s pioneering mastery of her craft.
Todd Gray at Meliksetian Briggs, West Hollywood
Courtesy of the artist and Meliksetian Briggs
Todd Gray’s tightly executed assemblages have an irresistible aesthetic uniting cosmic montage, colorful textiles, and musical legends. The artist sets his own archival pigment prints in found antique frames, drawing layered, non-linear image constellations. Pop culture, intimate moments, and the vast universe come together with his vintage photographs of Michael Jackson, documentary photography from Ghana (where Gray has a studio), and visions from the Hubble telescope.
Erica Baum at Bureau, New York City
Erica Baum has been combining text and image—her photographs are often described as "poems"—for over two decades. Her Naked Eye series cleverly plays on vision and our expectations of the photograph and the book-as-object. What reads as a collage is actually a single, unmodified photograph of a vintage stipple-edged paperback book. Blown up, observed from an oblique angle, these books are transformed into abstracted lines of color, image, and text.
We think Baum's photos are a perfect example of the nuance so often glanced over online or amongst bustling fair booths. Here's to taking the time this week to find the quiet and subtle moments so easily missed.
—The ArtSlant Team