Hippie king and self-proclaimed Zen master, Anton Heyboer was his own worst enemy. Grandiose, idealistic and eager to push the envelope in every direction, he resisted and sabotaged commercial and curatorial efforts to bring his work its due. Two years after his death, he is still barely known outside Holland — though that may change. An international Heyboer “underground” has built steadily over the past half-century among museum curators and collectors who view the artist as one of the most important printmakers and draughtsmen of our time, the equal — in spirit as in technique — of Joseph Beuys and Jasper Johns. Even a survey as tiny as this of Heyboer’s work on paper, augmented with a few similarly electric paintings, shows what MOMA and Documenta saw in the guy. Brimming with incantatory verbal scrawl (in several languages at once), the work testifies to Heyboer’s borderline mental and emotional state; the graphic power of the imagery — the existential depth of these quasi-kabbalistic diagrams and iconic notations — reveals the sensibility of a seer borne by the virtuosity of a master craftsman. You don’t simply want to look at or even own these document-pictures, you want to pore over them and devour them.
One of China’s hot new crop of neo-post-modernists, Han Dai-Yu — who now lives in Los Angeles — also relies on technical brilliance to convey a more intricate regard for both art and the human condition. Han’s realism is exacting but not slick, and he applies it to sensitive portraiture whose seeming traditionalism quickly melts away on closer inspection. Most of his figures lie on horizontal panels, rendered with a gentle, knowing intimacy and accompanied by a telling still-life item such as a handful of flowers or a locket. These appealing (if slightly vertiginous) paintings are augmented here with several homages to art history, most specifically Edouard Manet’s Olympia and Luncheon on the Grass. Han updates and inverts these proto-impressionist monuments with clever but effective substitutions and startling juxtapositions, slyly adding a “sur” to Manet’s realism. Anton Heyboer at Leslie Sacks Fine Art, 11640 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (310) 820-9448. Han Dai-Yu at L.A. Contemporary, 2634 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A.; Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; (310) 713-0507. Both thru Oct. 6.
Get the Theater
Your weekly guide to local culture with calendar listings and theater, dance, and comedy reviews.