This week, masked protesters appear in DIY textiles, a Beverly Hills gallery turns 20 and an L.A. video artist debuts a surprisingly playful retrospective.
Gagosian, the ultimate blue-chip gallery, has occupied its sleek Beverly Hills building for 20 years now. Its anniversary show isn’t good, per se — greatest-hits shows rarely are. But it’s entertaining. The Dan Colen painting in the corner of the second room, made with bubble gum instead of acrylic, looks like intestines smeared messily across white canvas. It smells like candy. The gold horns on Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde-encased sheep carcass have an over-the-top shininess. There are some understated touches, such as Nancy Rubins' sheets of graphite-covered paper curling off the wall in a smaller upstairs room. 456 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills; through Dec. 19. (310) 271-9400, gagosian.com.
Girl with the ivory earring
Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s painted collages require in-person viewing. They look flat in photos, but when you’re in front of them, they’re dense and worked-over. The paint and charcoal interact messily with the pasted-on advertisements in places, contrasting the classical compositions. A group of “early” paintings hang in the Hammer’s first floor galleries right now (Crosby is young, so she made her early work between 2010 and 2013). The show is dimly lit, softening the expansive domestic scenes and intimate portraits. In one large painting, a family of 11 crowds into a small living room. Most figures wear yellow flip-flops. A small, mostly black acrylic painting by the door shows a melancholy woman, eyes downcast, wearing an ivory cameo earring. The white face depicted on the earring almost looks more real and more dimensional than its wearer. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; through Jan. 10. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu.
Curtains for protesters
The bronze bust that sits on a pedestal in the center of Jemima Wyman’s small show at Commonwealth & Council has no face. Wyman made it from a mold of T-shirts draped to look like a mask. Bright curtains flank the bust, each printed with a different psychedelic pattern. Wyman creates these patterns herself, basing them off photographs taken at protests around the world. She has made textiles inspired by the Occupy Movement and Pussy Riot. Despite what they depict, her curtains still exude that warmth that so many soft, handmade items have. That's the strength of Wyman's work: It makes the domestic militant and vice versa. 3006 W. Seventh St., Suite 220, Koreatown; through Dec. 19. commonwealthandcouncil.com.
No labels or explanatory texts interrupt L.A. artist Diana Thater’s two-part retrospective at LACMA. Video projections fill all the walls. In a small room in the Art of the Americas building, three chess games take place simultaneously on three screens. Colored moons are projected against opposite walls on the third floor of the BCAM building. An owl moves back and forth between them. Even when Thater’s videos depict playful subjects, she maintains a deadpan style. This makes it all the more fun to go the museum on a weekend, when children are around to pose as if holding up the moon or pretend to sit in the movie theater seats projected against a wall as part of Life Is a Time-Based Medium. In the presence of an enthusiastic audience, Thater’s work becomes endearingly interactive, its dryness part of the game. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; through Feb. 21. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.
It’s tempting to touch the paintings in “Popography,” Gina Beavers’ exhibition at Michael Benevento. New York–based Beavers uses thick acrylic paint, so the makeup-encrusted eyes and manicured fingers on her canvases look sculptural. They’re also larger than life and creepy, in the way an expressionist sculpture of a Bratz doll would be. In one painting, a female eye has a hamburger visible inside it. It's a mashup of two kinds of colorful consumer fantasies. 3712 Beverly Blvd., Westlake; through Jan. 9. (323) 874-6400, beneventolosangeles.com.