By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
That’s not to suggest anything goes here, as Bas Jan Ader, the show’s jester, makes clear via a kind of comedy in bad faith that points, as jesting does, toward a truth. Ader’s video of himself clumsily trying to get a flower arrangement right — juxtaposed with a documentary film also included in the show and focusing on the three ikebana schools — reveals the difficulty and complexity of the art of arrangement itself.
In participating in this exhibition, the artists variously proclaim, confess or allow themselves to be outed as intuitive, romantic, formally inclined and given to craftsmanship and connoisseurship. And while many in contemporary art circles have downplayed the relevance of such tendencies, in this context, it is ikebana that reminds that such inclinations are not exclusive to cultural relevance or acuity.
There’s something almost cozy about the recent works on paper by Milan-based artist Alessandro Pessoli, who is enjoying his first major gallery show on the West Coast. The figures populating his images are flushed and brushed with color, sprayed over with hazes and halos, and layered in patterns that make you think of Marimekko fabrics. Formed from sheets of heavy paper, which are first painted and drawn upon, then cut into pieces and stitched together, they suggest handicrafts, crazy quilts and rag dolls; they have an ease about them, as both images and compositions, which holds the promise that they might be like a comfortable armchair, as Matisse wanted his paintings to be.
But imagine the chair turns out to be hot and sticky, probably found on the side of the road, and has loose springs that poke you where you wish they didn’t. There’s a dark side to all this fun. For all the calm and reverie of Pessoli’s reclining nudes, beachcombing nudists and heads lost in their own thoughts, it’s all a little chaffed and sunburnt, a little agitated, and the handicraft, while elegant in its own way, gets a bit too close to meatball surgery. One image calls to mind the poster for the surf flick Endless Summer, but perhaps with designer John Van Hamersveld collaborating with Francis Bacon. Others suggest David Hockney channeling Frankenstein. Meanwhile, a large, horizontal concoction of brightly hued, hand-formed ceramic components laid out on a pine table suggests both a constructed figure and a slumped modern building — a cyborg or a work of visionary architecture with a hot-rod paint job and heat stroke. You learn to settle into Pessoli’s armchair and enjoy his dark fancy.
ALESSANDRO PESSOLI: BUNKER ZINGARO | Marc Foxx Gallery | 6150 Wilshire Blvd., L.A. | (323) 857-5771 | www.marcfoxx.com | Through Aug. 2