Daniel Dove at Cherry and Martin
Daniel Dove seems more like another hatchling from Leipzig or Düsseldorf than a Yalie who resides in San Luis Obispo, where he teaches at Cal Poly. Like the better of the young Germans to whom he is artistic kin, Dove possesses a combination of technical facility and awareness of history and tradition that’s hard to come by in this country unless it is tethered to academic dryness; a talent for producing illusionistic spaces that seem convincing and concrete yet also theatrical and mercurial; a capacity for comingling reverie and discomfort, as well as a preoccupation with the poppest of pop culture and the gravitas of the sublime; and an utter deftness in getting formal plays, painterly licks, abstract chunks, pop-graphic tools and illusionistic devices to trade roles with one another. Just check out a painting like Autopsy, in which one sees the apparent bombed-out fuselage of an airliner — the cockpit, wings and tail cropped by the edges of the canvas — reconstructed in a hangar. Here, straightedged, spiky, cartoonish outcroppings suggestive of the way a spinach can looks when Popeye’s finished with it give graphic interpretation to unpicturable prior events. Time and space go wonky by way of such formal play; dynamic, radiant abstraction richly violates the horizontality of the scene; and the abstract/graphic elements take on presence (casting telltale shadows) and take charge of meaning while the “picture” in this painting goes flat as background and back story. Cherry and Martin, 12611 Venice Blvd., L.A., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru Sat., May 24. (310) 398-7404 or www.cherryandmartin.com.
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M.A. Peers at Rosamund Felsen Gallery
Just who among us would allow themselves to make paintings of jowly corporate types dressed in bobtailed-bear-cub plushy suits, climbing stairs into something resembling the aurora borealis as painted by Helen Frankenthaler? M.A. Peers, of course, and what makes Peers’ current offering at Rosamund Felsen so compelling isn’t just the artist’s fearlessness in selecting and combining odd imagery — from philanthropists and CEOs to “found yuppies” and Russian space dogs — but also her skill as a painter. Peers is able not only to ape or point to any number of painting styles, from the likes of Chicago imagist Ed Paschke or psychedelimaster Peter Max to more traditional approaches to figuration, but also to create unexpected, painterly concoctions that match the confliction of their subject matter and induce a kind of gleeful nausea — or is that a nauseating glee? Rosamund Felsen Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., B-4 (Bergamot Station), Santa Monica; Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; thru June 7. (310) 828-8488 or www.rosamundfelsen.com.
Takashi Murakami at Blum & Poe
More than a few comparisons have been made, by detractors and fans alike, between Takashi Murakami, whose spectacle of a survey exhibition just closed at the Geffen Contemporary in February, and Andy Warhol. While such comparisons have centered on the artists’ preoccupations with popular culture, factory production and commercialism, what has been overlooked is among the most interesting inclinations the two artists share — the exploration of the possibilities of variation upon theme. A specific room in MOCA’s 2002 Warhol retrospective — hung with three paintings of Elizabeth Taylor, all from the same photo — comes to mind. While the hanging no doubt reinforced the idea of Andy pumping ’em out, it also made one look at the differences a slight change in cropping or positioning could make. That room echoes forward to Blum & Poe, where a current Murakami exhibition includes a room hung with three paintings, all rooted in the same base image of Daruma (a.k.a. Bodhidharma), the 5th-century founder of Zen Buddhism. And in looking at the three, as well as in looking at any one of them — or the group of similar yet different, more abstract compositions in an adjacent room — you see, emerging from beneath the spectacle in this quieter yet more forceful offering, a Murakami deeply invested in subtlety. Blum & Poe, 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru June 14. (310) 836-2062 or www.blumandpoe.com.
Carmine Iannaccone at SolwayJones
Variation and recurrence are central to Carmine Iannaccone’s latest project at Solway Jones, where the artist, who previously has used layered plywood to simulate landscape, now takes a cue from the sorts of strategies used by artist Allan McCollum. In his “Individual Works” series, McCollum produced thousands of small objects, generally similar in size and shape, and painted the same color in massive lots, but unique in their specifics. Such one-of-a-kind multiples suggested a certain kind of interchangeability of art objects, but they also invited an investment in, and afforded access to, an intimacy and connoisseurship lost in the experience of much contemporary art. Iannaccone does something similar with a collection of objects made of layered plywood —scroll-cut according to templates — and laminated to suggest sedimentary rocks that are then further carved and painted, so as to give each an individual character. The results are simulations and surrogates that, in inviting scrutiny, awaken a kind of awareness, which is little applied to a natural world that has become generic to us. SolwayJones, 5377 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru June 7. (323) 937-7354 or www.solwayjonesgallery.com.
Soo Kim at Sandroni Rey
Imagine a poet of the sort who is inclined to go back over the same line again and again, and tease meaning out of it each time through slight manipulations, armed with a camera and an X-Acto knife, and you have something of an idea of Soo Kim’s latest project at Sandroni Rey. Wrapping around the main gallery are 12 framed color photographs, each unique, but each showing the same basic scene of a young woman slouching over a glass table and drawing on the surface with her finger. Perfectly reflecting the girl’s upper body, backlit window and drapes behind her, the glass converts each photo into an abstraction, symmetrical along a horizontal axis. Carefully cut into each photo are patterns, some seemingly intended to harmonize with the composition, others perhaps interpreting a state of mind or being. Interspersed in the room are five photos of trees reflected in the windows of the Lloyd Wright–designed Wayfarers Chapel in Palos Verdes. Kim’s photos suggest something unexpectedly profound located within the ordinary, known only when subtly different moments are understood not as redundancies but as unique iterations shaping context for one another. Sandroni Rey, 2762 La Cienega Blvd., L. A., Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru June 14. (310) 280-0111 or www.sandronirey.com.
Sandeep Mukherjee at Sister and Cottage Home
There probably aren’t words for how I felt when looking at Sandeep Mukherjee’s paintings in acrylic ink and other media on variously etched and embossed Duralene (a translucent plastic sheet material), currently on view in Chinatown at Sister and just up Broadway at Cottage Home, a much larger space operated jointly by Sister and a group of other small galleries. You don’t have to be a romantic or a spiritually inclined person to have a romantic or spiritual experience with these paintings, which simply trigger something of both. It isn’t by way of image, symbol or narrative. Yes, Mukherjee often deals in radiant bursts, luminous glows and spirals that are suggestive of mandalas, mandorlas, sunspots and the cosmic abstractions of the late, great Los Angeles painter Lee Mullican to whom Mukherjee is an artistic heir, but his ability to make you exercise contemplative muscles you might not have known you have isn’t about reference or allusion. Rather, it’s about his awe-inspiring command of line, movement and luminosity. At Cottage Home, a large composition of wispy lines, which defines a perceptual experience something like looking into hazy sky from within a thicket, is at once woozying, liberating and haunting. On view at both spaces, Mukherjee’s compositions of overlapping, intertwining, interrupted and unfinished spirals, daubed in translucent strokes that turn the Duralene surface into a kind of inked mosaic, are what the phrase “poetry in motion” was meant to describe. I will make a point of returning to this exhibition during the coming weeks, and when it is over, my summer will feel the lesser.Sister, 437 Gin Ling Way, L.A., Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and Cottage Home, 410 Cottage Home Rd., L.A., Wed.-Sat., 12 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru June 21. (213) 628-7000 or www.sisterla.com.