This week's art picks include an art fair moving into an Agoura Hills movie set, and the lushly illustrated, frustrating book an artist wrote about being censored circa 1970 going on view downtown.
5. Call the repairman
The allure of Tom of Finland, the Finnish illustrator who began sending erotic drawings to L.A.-based mag Physique Pictorial in the 1950s, has to be the mix of straightforwardness and transgressiveness in his work. One series of his drawings, up now at David Kordansky Gallery, tells a story: A dark-haired beefcake who can’t button his shirt all the way due to his muscles calls a TV repairman. The repairman turns out to be as hot as he is, only fairer. Soon they’re on the couch. There’s no ambiguity. The drawings are even a little cheesy. But they’re made by a guy who served in the Finnish air force, interacted with Nazis and wasn’t supposed to be so unambiguous. 5130 W. Edgewood Place, Mid-City; through March 7. (323) 935-3030, davidkordanskygallery.com.
4. Myself and I
Brazilian artist Paulo Bruscky photographed himself in 1978 lying on a mattress next to a replica of himself made of paper, looking emaciated and “wearing” jeans out of which his two-dimensional, flat feet stuck out flimsily. The bearded Bruscky looks truly disturbed in one photo, as he tries to cuddle with his replica. The photos hang at the Mistake Room now in a show that consists mostly of Bruscky’s artist books. 1811 E. 20th St., dwntwn.; through March 14. (213) 749-1200, tmr.la.
3. Wild West plus art
Paramount Ranch, at a Western village built to be a movie set, feels like a ghost town most of the time. And it kind of feels like a ghost town when it's filled with contemporary art, as it will be this weekend for the second year in a row. Or maybe it just feels like a confused town, one that isn't exactly sure why there are so many strange objects in the saloon. About 50 galleries, many of them small or artist-run, will be showing, and entry costs $5, cash only (five times less than the concurrent Art Los Angeles Contemporary fair). 2903 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills; Sat., Jan. 31-Sun., Feb. 1. email@example.com, paramountranch.la.
2. What if people get embarrassed?
In 1969, expat artist Dorothy Iannone’s work was censored from an exhibition in Bern, Switzerland. Her figures had exposed genitals and unmasked desire, which clearly made them risqué. The book she wrote and illustrated about being censored, Story of Bern, will be on view as part of Printed Matter’s Iannone exhibition at the L.A. Art Book Fair. In it, the artist grapples with people’s prudery. “I am not shocked by anything you do,” a friend named Karl says, “but don’t you ever think there are other viewpoints and some people who come to the show might be embarrassed? They must be considered.” Iannone, depicted as dark-haired, wide-eyed and nude, responds, “Now you shock me!” MOCA Geffen Contemporary, 152 N. Central Ave., dwntwn.; Thu., Jan. 29-Sun., Feb. 1. (212) 925-0325, laartbookfair.net.
1. Laboratory in the living room
The two young women and one middle-aged man in Danielle Dean’s new nine-minute film, playing in Commonwealth & Council’s main gallery, look like hospice workers. Wearing colored scrubs, they show up in a run-of-the-mill Houston apartment and set up sterile-looking equipment. Except they use that equipment to do science experiments or, maybe, to make hexafluorosilicic acid, the compound that’s converted into aluminum fluoride. Dean titled her film Hexafluorosilicic, and her characters seem both complicit and conflicted about whatever they’re doing. Pixelated advertising imagery sometimes flashes across the screen, and something frightening seems to be lurking behind a doorway. 3006 W. Seventh St., #220, Koreatown; through Feb. 7. (213) 703-9077, commonwealthandcouncil.com.
Catherine Wagley on Twitter
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter: