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Wisdom for the Ages

There are many ways you might have heard of Norton Wisdom over the years, but it's probably been a while since you've seen his paintings. That's because he's spent the last decade focusing on his performance art, taking his act on the road in collaborations with musicians like Banyan, Lili Haydn, Nels Cline and one-man band The Machine, aka Wisdom's lifelong friend, artist Llyn Foulkes. But the intensely political and frequently sexed-up pictures resulting from the shows are just one part of Wisdom's career. He has dedicated his life in the studio to exploring the infinite possibilities of an abstract structure, the proscenium/rectangle. Since the late 1960s, Wisdom has been rendering this shape in pure color, expressively distressed surfaces, and collages made with images both found and cannibalized from his own previous canvases. He never stopped making these lively, serene paintings -- but the demands of life as a performer and anti-war activist interrupted the proliferation of proper gallery shows. That is, until gallery owner Robert Berman put his foot down, and Foulkes concurred that it was high time the world got a look at Wisdom's home game. The result? This Foulkes-curated exhibition that's both a survey and a debut of the new. As the title observes, "It's About Fucking Time." Robert Berman Gallery. Bergamot Station Art Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., B7, Santa Monica; Sat., Nov. 16, 6-9 p.m.; continues Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m., through Dec. 21; free. (310) 315-1937, robertbermangallery.com.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Nov. 16. Continues through Dec. 21, 2013

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