5 Free Art Shows to See in L.A. This Week
John Armleder's West Jasmine , 2017 (detail)
Photo by Lee Thompson. Courtesy of Massimo De Carlo and David Kordansky
This week, an apocalypse plays out across gray-green linoleum, and two longtime eco-artists have a comprehensive show in Hollywood.
Wine glasses in a pile of bricks
John Armleder’s exhibition at David Kordansky could pass as a group show. The Swiss artist associated with the intentionally eccentric Fluxus movement of the 1960s has been a performer and an object maker over his long career. Sometimes his work has gravity to it; sometimes he’s like a stuntman. For this show, he has built a pile of bricks, sand, wine glasses and white candles, and included highly stylized wallpaper paintings of octopuses alongside his messy puddle paintings, made by pouring paint onto canvases laid on the floor. A vintage leather couch, lamps, plants and an oversized towel rack overtly reference domestic spaces, and the show begins to feel like the domestic fantasy of a conflicted iconoclast. 5130 W. Edgewood Place, Mid-Wilshire; through Feb. 25. (323) 935-3030, davidkordanskygallery.com.
Saving Earth, one drawing at a time
There’s a regenerating composting farm in a pentagonal, waist-high wood container at the center of “The Harrisons,” Various Small Fires' show of work by Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison. The couple, collaborators since the 1960s and early players in the eco-art movement, make art that bleeds into history, science and activism as well as ecology. Their exhibition, which spans four and a half decades, includes a film on degradation of the California forests and elegant but didactic landscape paintings. A large oil, pastel and ink drawing in an octagonal shape depicts the Sierra Nevadas, and text written in a circle around it warns us: The mountain range will suffer as temperatures rise, the central valley will do worse. 812 Highland Ave., Hollywood; through March 18. (310) 426-8040, vsf.la.
Leaking and buzzing with linoleum
Olga Balema covered the main room at Hannah Hoffman with muted green linoleum, titling this floor piece Return of the repressed. It does have an institutional feel — this type of green fills aging medical offices or some place where paper gets pushed. The sculptures laid out on this floor are less bureaucratic, though, or maybe they’re the fleshy, zombie dream versions of office equipment. A thing filled with evil streams, a sculpture made of wood with appendages of latex and Magic Sculpt, has working cellphone motors and batteries attached to it, so it vibrates continuously. Water and photographs float in plastic-enclosed, see-through pools. Shelves of fabric and latex hold water, too, as if the ceiling’s been leaking and further ravaging this strange scene. 1010 Highland Ave., Hollywood; through March 4. (323) 450-9106, hannahhoffmangallery.com.
Not quite, but almost there
The inkjet print that Kang Seung Lee made from a graphite drawing based on a photograph stretches across one wall in Commonwealth & Council’s small side gallery and shows bunched-up sheets on an uninhabited bed. But in the source photograph, which Peter Hujar took of the inimitable David Wojnarowicz in 1983, there is a body wrapped in those sheets. “Absent Without Leave,” Lee calls this show: “Poof — you are neither here nor there, but there remains proof of you everywhere,” says the press release. Another print is based on a self-portrait of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in S&M costume, leaning over a sheet-covered chair with a whip coming out of his rear. We see the sheet, chair and whip, but no Robert. The scene feels bodily, full and compelling anyway. 3006 W. Seventh St. #220, Koreatown; through March 4. (213) 703-9077, commonwealthandcouncil.com.
Movie man's planetary theories
No sound designer had ever been credited onscreen before Walter Murch, who designed the sound for Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. The sound of helicopters at the beginning of that film, all the result of Murch’s mixing and editing, set a tone. “[H]elicopters were the horses of the sky ... the cavalry-horsemen-apocalypse thing,” Murch explained in a 2000 interview. But the Oscar winner has also been pursuing another project for the past few decades: supporting Bode’s Law, an 18th-century theory about the rotations and axes of planets that shows, he believes, planets have a harmonically musical relationship. Lawrence Weschler, an art writer fascinated by artists with complex philosophical and scientific theories, will speak with Murch about science, art and sound at the Hammer this week. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Thu., Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu.
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