Thomas Hirschhorn, Andrew Lord, and Lari Pittman at Regen Projects

Thomas Hirschhorn, Big Tattoo-series, All Mixed Up (2007)

A sense of a new and rewarding whole — a sum that both surpasses and reinvigorates the parts — is palpable here. The show is not unlike an exquisite corpse, a process/project in which individual artists contribute, with limited knowledge of the others’ contributions, to a surprising final work. Lord’s klutzy and lumpy yet nimble and elegant ceramic vessel/sculptures help to convert the gallery space into something of a Beaux Arts parlor. In such a setting, Pittman’s ripely flamboyant paintings blush and heave and revel in the decorousness and messiness of life, more freely than they commonly have in simple white-cube settings; meanwhile their bounty of bulbous forms, truncated extremities, amputated limbs, and cups that runneth over resonate with Lord’s urns, platters and ewers, which are both robust and fragile (a break in one is salved with glue and decorated with gold in the way of the Japanese tradition of the honored flaw). Pittman’s works bridge Lord’s objects and Hirschhorn’s collages. The context allows Hirschhorn’s pieces to function more as Trojan horses — their impressively rhythmic, undulating and scale-shifting compositions initially caught from the corner of one’s eye as dynamic yet tasteful pop-pulp tapestries playing their part in the salon. But closer inspection reveals a manic mélange of porn, tattoo-skin pics, modern primitive extreme shots and graphic Iraq War casualty photos of the sort only found in countries with less self-censoring press than ours. Stitched together with jittery marker scribbling and punctuated with symbols borrowed from political, commercial and faith-based enterprises, they evince both careful crafting and also a kind of meatball-surgery approach that together form the work’s final metaphorical veneer. Hirschhorn’s is among the most brilliantly perverse and culturally astute work around, and it returns the compliment to the works of Pittman and Lord. It reminds, by way of a formal acuity that can get lost in Hirschhorn’s larger installations, that all three artists in this exhibition derive their charge from the fusion of rigorous design with deliberate and confrontational stylistics, imagery compilation and material handling. Amidst all of the exhibitions — some of them blockbusters — that have succeeded in contextualizing and pairing the works of each of these three artists among other contemporaries, it’s hard to recall any that succeeded as well as the convening of this trio in a relatively modest show. Exquisite.

Regen Projects: 633 Almont Drive, West Hollywood, Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., through April 18. (310) 276-5424, or

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