Konstantin Bojanov at Otero Plassart
If you've spent any time looking at contemporary art over the last 15 years, you've likely seen the impressive handiwork of Konstantin Bojanov, but until now, you probably haven't had the opportunity to see his artwork. The Brooklyn-based artist, who studied filmmaking and sculpture in his homeland of Bulgaria and later at the Royal College of Art in London, is one of the top fabricators in the field of contemporary art, and has produced ambitious works for an A-list of artist/clients, including Vanessa Beecroft, Chris Ofili and Richard Prince; and big-league Los Angeles–based artists, including Richard Jackson, Barbara Kruger, Paul McCarthy and the late Jason Rhoades. At his first solo show in Los Angeles, he rolls out products under his own label.
You can see why Bojanov has been a fabricator in demand. The sheer variety of materials and processes visible in this selection of works — from cast stainless steel and 24-karat gilded brass to chrome-coated wood — is no less impressive than the mastery with which they are consistently handled. Bojanov, who in the process of developing his fabrication business has gathered not only a startling bag of tricks but also a serious workshop and a talented crew, has clearly made all that he avails to his clients available to himself. But what's more important and evident here is how an artist who has spent so much time, and been so trusted in utilizing his technical knowledge to materialize the ideas of others, is able to produce works in which plan and execution are coming all from the same hands and brain. In an age in which artists are increasingly distanced from the means of their production — the raison d'être for Bojanov's day job — he is able to envision works in a way that is fully informed by the engineering end, and create finished pieces without having to do an interpretive mind meld with someone else. The results are works in which, while the symbolic load of objects as varied as a taxidermy coyote, a Harley Davidson engine or a selection of medical instruments may seem to own top billing on the marquee, it's the subtleties of making, connecting, finishing and presenting that actually carry the show and give charge to his musings on the vulnerability and mortality of mind and flesh.
Perhaps, given his frequently behind-the-scenes position vis-à-vis artists with bigger names than his, it's not surprising that Bojanov is inclined (and actually able) to address the work of artists with even bigger names — as varied as Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois and Jeff Koons, as well as Yves Klein and James Lee Byars, who are both signaled visually and noted by name in the title of Bojanov's works — in nods that seem to range from reverential to superfanatical to Oedipal. The exhibition's title, Fears, Obsessions, and Dedications, nails it when you think of Bojanov in relation to a group of predecessors and contemporaries, and it is this lot of artists, who, in their own disparate ways, are utterly invested in the fusion and confrontation of imagery and materiality, that Bojanov falls into. With this exhibition, well worth catching before it closes, Bojanov begins to display his worthiness of being counted among those for whom he has worked and to whom he tips his hat.
Otero Plassart: 820 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A.; Tues.-Sat., 10:30-5:30, through March 13. (323) 951-1068, oteroplassart.com.
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