June 02, 2010

l o s . a n g e l e s

the hammer

on our trip to the a+d opening, we visited the hammer museum at the university of california, LA —  a charged afternoon. we saw the stunningly evocative architectural photographs of luisa lambri, daria martin's beautiful and richly layered film, minotaur, and the appealingly molded paintings of jonas wood — but headlining the whole experience were the workbook drawings of celebrated british artist rachel whiteread.

the shows converged on the intersection of memory and form or, as evinced by whiteread's sculptural work and personal collections, "poignant notions of presence and absence." full of work that was as sharply and decisively crafted as it was ambiguous, poetic, and displaced, these shows offered the patron a means to reflect not only on intimate subjects, but on the way that we recall them. what made these four shows notable was their lack of muscular ego — their focus on the quiet and everyday.

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rachel whiteread casts spaces in concrete and resin, rendering them just as she disables them: her childhood closet, a house that has been torn down, the underside of chairs, water towers in new york. this show focused on her personal working drawings, sketchbook pages and collections: shoe molds and twigs, miniature furniture, glass baubles, and light switches — small, natural and manufactured castings of daily life.

luisa lambri photographs modernist buildings, in this case the architecture of john lautner. here too, the focus strays from the monumental or even descriptive, lingering on views through his building's windows — dark, lacy lattices and blindingly interposed exposures of light; an uncommon method of documenting architectural space. her formal strategies, though seemingly restrained, show an effusive interest in the meeting of man made space and the natural environments in which they're situated.

likewise, daria martin draws distinct forms together. through subtle sound, careful, patient but anxious photography, delicate-rough choreography, and decisive, unpredictable editing, martin's short film, minotaur, presents us with an incredibly vibrant combination of dance, sculpture, photography, and film. there is a blending of mediums and functions as the camera draws slowly across the surface of rodin's sculptures as if in a slow dance; as performers, in their extended movement and monumental staging, mimic the physicality of sculpture, giving it life and human scale; and as static photos affect an active yearning: an elderly woman flips through a book, remembering, dreaming?

jonas wood rounded out the trip with his straight depictions of potted plants. working from memory, vernacular experience and collage, these large, bright paintings simultaneously evoke both the specialized modernist sculptures of history and common tabletop dressings. lingering on the small, familiar, and homely and its relationship with the larger trajectory of art, wood presents quiet, appealing portraits of the evanescent as enduring pseudo-monuments.

anyway. the next time you're in LA, visit the hammer;
you might get lucky \\\\\