Rodney McMillian at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects 

Thursday, Feb 11 2010

If you wait until the last minute to see the Rodney McMillian exhibition inaugurating Susanne Vielmetter's new space (on Washington just west of La Cienega), you'll actually see less of the show than if you go right now — that is, if all goes according to plan. That's because McMillian, who previously has used price, purchase opportunity, patronage and distribution as conceptual tools in his work, has created a situation in which prices and access will alter the show over time. While some higher-priced works will remain until the end, to be delivered to whoever purchases them, many of the works here — potted succulents the artist has cultivated and nurtured, and priced according to size, type and his degree of attachment to them — are available for sums ranging from less than the tab for dinner to that for a vacation, and are strictly cash 'n' carry, while column sculptures sharing the room with the plants are priced at "best offer." Watching over this orchestration of art categorization and consumption are a flat-screen video of the artist's hands moving as if conducting an ensemble, and a massive wall-mounted painting/sculpture of stitched vinyl. With its irregular outline and its central void, it suggests a sphincter torn from a giant, black-clad body, but it's also suggestive of a flower, an eye, a starburst and a black hole. Resonating with works as varied as Jay DeFeo paintings, Lee Bontecou sculptures and Robert Longo wall reliefs, McMillian's vinyl monster is simultaneously imposing and impressive, vulnerable and plaintive. The next room has been lined with a tailored-to-fit, stitched black-vinyl prophylactic that hugs the walls and floor, and establishes a false ceiling in the space. The work, which replaces paradigms of "white cube" and "light and space" with something more like black cave, and darkness and texture, is as enveloping emotionally as it is physically — able to trigger interests and sensitivities formal and sensual, psychological, sexual and social. McMillian has consistently shown that his unbridledness, and his conceptual, material and stylistic promiscuity, are matched by a poetic and formal intelligence.

Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects: 6006 Washington Blvd., Culver City. Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m., through March 6. (310) 837-2117, vielmetter.com.
click to enlarge Rodney McMillian, Succulents, installation view (2009)
  • Rodney McMillian, Succulents, installation view (2009)


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