A view of Erik Frydenborg's sculpture in "Any Human Measure"
A view of Erik Frydenborg's sculpture in "Any Human Measure"
Courtesy M+B

5 Free Art Shows You Should See in L.A. This Week

This week, a raunchy, longtime painter lets his prehistoric women warriors be fierce and affectionate at the same time, and a much younger Viennese artist gives her paintings long-winded, sassy titles. 

5. Movable feast
Barbara Grossman’s Breakfast Club, started beside a lake by 10 women, is performing in a dining room installed in a gallery. There will be a “tableaux” at the table. It might look like a still life at first, but then it will start to move, given that the objects — at least some of them — are actually people. The idea is to explore the way we fit ourselves into culturally sanctioned roles (the family at the dinner table, for instance) and ways we can break out. 1815 S. Main St., downtown; Sat., May 23, doors at 7, performances at 7:30 and 8 pm. (213) 536-8020, coaxialarts.org

4. Moon worship
“Any Human Measure,” the group show at M+B, includes a fantastic, comically ritualistic sculpture by Erik Frydenborg called Moons of Mirada. A golden creature with legs like a faun's has its skinny striped arms raised upward. Behind the creature is a red moon printed on a mauve jersey that has been stretched around a box. 612 N. Almont Drive, West Hollywood; through June 20. (310) 550-0050, mbart.com

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3. Ultra-pretty power player
Laurie Nye’s version of the Andromeda myth, which plays out in her paintings on view at 5 Car Garage, is a bit different from the traditional one. In the traditional telling, Andromeda is perpetually being punished for her beauty. In Nye’s paintings, Andromeda comes off as more of a mystic power player, a leader in a hyper-technological alien ecosystem. That’s not to suggest the images are aggressive. They’re actually quite gentle, especially Earth Flower II, the newest painting in the show. It has a pale pink background against which a barely visible Andromeda climbs through a bouquet of geometric yellow shapes and pinkish-reddish blossoms. Address available upon request, Santa Monica; through May 30 by appointment. (310) 497-6895, emmagrayhq.com

Peter Saul's Lunchtime (2014)
Peter Saul's Lunchtime (2014)
Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Photograph by Fredrik Nilsen

2. We did absolutely nothing
The titles of Vienna-based Verena Dengler’s new paintings, on view in a show called “American Painting” at Thomas Duncan, give her already cheeky work even more attitude. The often embroidered paintings, sometimes haphazardly minimal and other times haphazardly dense, poke fun at themselves. One wild, intentionally juvenile abstraction is called Suspicious Fugue of the Speculative Ego as pragmatic sentiment investigating the ephemeral Maelstrom in oil. (Dialogue with embarrassed elegance). The words suggest that the playful painting is bogged down by big, pretentious art-world ideas. Another similarly gestural, playful work is more mundanely titled: But we did nothing, absolutely nothing that day; and I say: what the hell am I doing drinking in LA at twenty six? 6109 Melrose Ave., Hollywood; through June 20. (310) 494-1177, thomasduncangallery.com

1. In the crazy details
The loony, sensual paintings of Peter Saul, now nearly 80, often satirize familiar subjects: Ronald Reagan with multiple gooey pink tongues, a garish Donald Duck or dollar bills with green hands. “The mistake too many people make with Saul is to focus on his subject matter, separating it from the way each painting is done,” critic John Yau said in 2010. It’s true: If you focus on the subjects, you miss the odd pleasures Saul provides in his treatment of paint, color and shape. In “Some Crazy Paintings,” his current show at David Kordansky, the beauty is in the funny way the fierce figures in Two Prehistoric Women drape their reddish-brown arms around each other or the way teeth float above or settle into the orange flesh of an oddly deformed face in Lunchtime. 5130 W. Edgewood Place, Mid-City; through June 20. (323) 935-3030, davidkordanskygallery.com

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