Sunday, January 20, 2008

Third LA Biennial

Fish and I went to the Third LA Biennial at Bergamot Station last week. At the end of this entry is the LA Weekly cover story that promoted the event. I've edited out the rundown of artists. If you want to read that list summary, click on the link, but I don't know how long they'll keep it live, so do it soon.

Track 16 Gallery hosted the event, but the entire complex opens up, and it's really cool to just gallery hop, watching all the drunks as well as checking out bands and, of course, artists on display.

The thing of it is that the Weekly is just too good of a pr machine; the place was packed.

As for the artists, I hated the lot except for the few below found at galleries outside of Track 16:

Unkown - it was hanging near a staircase, but I forgot which gallery...

The following two are also unknown - same gallery, but in a back room

The night of the biennial, Joey Remmers at the Copro Nason Gallery made an impact:

He reminds me of a combo of Delvaux and Magritte with a splash of cartooning thrown in. While I can admit that there are technically superior painters, I like Remmers' sense of space. For instance, in the last pic he is simultaneously in extreme close up and long shot. But he does texture well too, like the flies...

Then there was the funny Ed Colver, also courtesy of Copro Nason. I swear, I took my daughter to Bergamot yesterday and we busted up at this:

Colver also indulged a bit...

But the best collection hands down belongs to Grey McGear Modern.

Camille Vojnar

David Febland

Jeff Weekley

Leslie Balleweg

David Febland again

In each of the artists there's a streak of Hopper running through them.

While I had fun at the Biennial, it was simply too crowded in Track 16. What's cool about Bergamot is all of the nooks and crannies. For instance, Copro Nason is at one end where a band was playing outside. It's really nice to go on a weekend afternoon, as Renee and I did yesterday. There's even a tiny people park in the parking lot.


The artists in the third L.A. Weekly Annual Biennial
Wednesday, January 9, 2008 - 3:45 pm
Some paintings give me diamonds, some paintings, heart attacks
Some paintings I give all my bread to, I don’t ever want it back
Some paintings give me jewelry, others buy me clothes
Some paintings give me children I never asked them for.


Painting is dead. Painting isn’t dead. Painting is dead! No, it isn’t! Yes, it is! Isn’t! Is! Shut up shut up shut up shut up!!! Okay, now that we have that out of the way... Painting isn’t the denial-plagued zombie elephant in the room — art theory is. It’s one of the lines Leonard Cohen left out: Everybody knows a work of art that doesn’t speak for itself is a failure as a work of art. Fortunately, in spite of the best efforts we critics have mustered to impose Artforum’s Rules of Order on the rabble, art — and particularly the medium non grata of painting — just won’t shut up.

Painters in the contemporary art world, particularly those from L.A., have to maintain a chameleonesque indeterminacy about their artistic intentions — be all things to all people — or face ghettoization. Is this an abstract painting? Or a painting of a painting of an abstract painting, wink wink? It’s the emperor’s new clothes all over. The ultimate irony is that the emperor is actually decked out in an Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat — the plausible deniability cultivated by painters for the social sphere creates a temporary autonomous zone in the studio wherein a thousand flowers have blossomed. No one can pin them down, so they can get away with anything. The psycho art-market bubble hasn’t hurt production either.

An exhibition featuring the work of these artists runs Jan. 12–Feb. 16 at Track 16 Gallery in Bergamot Station. Opening reception is Sat., Jan. 12, 7–11 p.m., with refreshments and performances by the Spirit Girls, Wounded Lion, John Kilduff of Let’s Paint TV, and more.

So the question that generated “Some Paintings,” the third L.A. Weekly Annual Biennial exhibition, isn’t whether or not painting is a dysfunctional plastic category, or what makes painting relevant in today’s global-a-go-go art world, or even “How can curating a painting show make me seem clever?” It is, simply, “What would it look like to have a broad-spectrum sampling of contemporary L.A. painting in one space?” We just got tired of waiting for some high-profile museum to put it together. How difficult could that be?

Pretty difficult, as it turns out. The hardest part has been the narrowing down. With an initial list of more than 300, and a dream of whittling the list down to a 60-something précis (which ended up closer to “90 under 90”), the shuffling and reshuffling of possible permutations — looking for correspondences and polarities, designating redundancies, and trying to orchestrate a multiplicity of often-dissonant artistic voices into some vague coherence — was just the prelude to the grim task of making the necessary cuts.

I don’t even know how many painters are in this show anymore, but it amused me that at the point I began to write these capsule profiles, there were 78 — the same number as there are cards in a tarot deck, a pictorial system that condenses all the possibilities of life into one set of archetypes. Past, present, future — all will be revealed! Perhaps there’s room for interpretation after all. Just cross my palm with silver.