This week, a poet explores the Facebook pages of the dead and a performance artist honors the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
Wrestling in the wilderness
Two long-haired, nearly identical naked men wrestle in Carroll Dunham’s The Golden Age drawings, on view at Blum & Poe. They’re in a mostly empty landscape, underneath a cartoonish tree, often with a bemused, dark-haired dog looking on. In one drawing, they grab at each other's faces while the dog howls. In another, one man picks up the other with unnatural ease and shoves him head-first into the tree’s trunk — in this drawing, the dog appears confounded. There’s something biblically epic about this wrestling; it conjures that Old Testament story in which Jacob wrestles with an angel. At the same time, their aggression mostly seems pointless. Perhaps it’s the only thing two contentious brothers who have been stranded in the wilderness can think to do with themselves. 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Mid-City; through June 17. (310) 836-2062, blumandpoe.com.
Artist Forrest Bess made his own frames, imperfectly and roughly, practically ensuring that his work would never look pristine, not even 40 years after his death. A collection of his small and midsized paintings hangs at Parrasch Heijnen in a show that pairs his work with the similarly idiosyncratic experiments of 77-year-old painter Joan Snyder. Bess’ Untitled No. 6 could be an abstraction, or it could be a comical rendering of a lumpy, supernaturally large clown nudging a blood-red sun with its nose. Often, Bess’ paintings look both abstract and figurative at once. In Untitled No. 18, chunky, muddy, black mounds appear against a pastel pink background. This one sort of resembles Snyder’s Pink Platform/Soft Cloud (1968), in which a mattresslike rectangle of pink with nails protruding from it lies beneath a speckled mound of black and gray. 1326 S. Boyle Ave., Boyle Heights; through June 24. (323) 943-9373, parrasch-heijnen.com.
Just me and my McBone
The paintings in Brandon Landers' current exhibition at Club Pro, “Ah Little Juice,” look old-fashioned. They’re in vintage frames and the compositions and loose brushwork sometimes conjure post-impressionism. Side Thang, a painting of a chair in an oppressive yellow room, recalls the work of Londoner Francis Bacon, had Bacon forgotten to put in one of his distorted figures. But Landers is a relatively young painter and all the work was made this year. In Sporkin, two boys wear masks and one holds a Spork. In that one McBone, a barefoot man on a couch eats a lone piece of meat. Mostly, the paintings capture mundane moments, but Landers depicts these moments with a rough, insistent energy, making everything feel pretty heavy. 1525 S. Main St., third floor, downtown; through July 12. clubpro.la.
“The most interesting thing about photography today to me is the endless abyss of self-absorption we engage in,” artist-poet Sophia Le Fraga said, talking last winter about her installation $OPH NO FILTER. The installation consisted of a bed in front of two green-screen walls. Generically abstract paintings around the bed said “I don’t know” and “I guess,” and served as the set for an imaginary sitcom. One of Le Fraga’s recent poetry books, literallydead, culls text from the Facebook profiles of friends who have died. The self-exposure of life online is her constant subject. She’ll read at MOCA this weekend, along with poet Ed Steck — who wrote a book-length poem about insomnia — and Rodrigo Toscano, a poet and labor activist. 250 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Sun., June 18, 3 p.m.; free with admission. (213) 621-1741, moca.org.
In 2016, Canadian artist Brendan Fernandes crafted 49 hangers out of crystal, one for for each victim of the Pulse nightclub shooting that happened in Orlando, Florida. He hung the hangers, meant to hold the coats clubgoers would remove before dancing, on a rack in a white-walled gallery space and called the piece Free Fall — it was supposed to offer respite from the media free fall that followed the shooting. At the Getty this weekend, he will perform Free Fall 49, a different tribute to Pulse victims, in collaboration with musician How to Dress Well. Forty-nine dancers will fall 49 times, getting back up each time, their perseverance suggesting defiance of an unjust fate. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood; Fri., June 16, 6-9 p.m.; free. (310) 440-7330, getty.edu.