Matthew Monahan at MOCA Focus Grand Avenue

Local artist Matthew Monahan shows his theatrical sculptures and drawings in his first solo show in L.A. — busts, heads and torsos placed on or next to pedestals, plinths or plexiglass display boxes. While the disembodied parts are larger than life, the sculptures are on a human scale in terms of height, causing the viewer to relate to them almost as people populating the semicrowded space. Monahan blends figuration and abstraction as he toys with concepts of history, excavation, philosophy, museum display and deconstruction. His work combines the dramatic and the playful to create a thrilling sense of immediacy.

250 S. Grand Ave., downtown | | (213) 626-6222 | Through October 29

“Hovering Over the Universe .?.?.” at Honor Fraser

The painter Kristin Calabrese organized this long-titled group show with Honor Fraser’s tiny gallery space in mind. (The full title is “Hovering over the universe I aim my laser pistol into the eye of the universe and time slows down, is splayed out so I can see the interlocking spirals and splatted fractal glowing shapes, all different sizes and moving different speeds, but when seen from this vantage point, their spiney glorious and gorgeous perfection when seen all together .?.?.”) Most of the paintings are quite large and, seen in this small space, become somewhat confrontational (though not necessarily aggressive). The exception is the stunning and small, metallic gold and red Mary Heilmann that commands more space than anything else. L.A. locals JP Munro and Rebecca Morris both show beauties; Morris’ silver metallic abstraction is much like others seen in shows this spring and summer, while Munro’s is an epic explosion of color, more abstract than usual. Katie Grinnan shows a “tree” sculpture inspired by a palm stump at the gallery, and there is an outdoor mural by Matt Chambers. Also included are Nina Bovasso, Heather Brown, Glenn Goldberg, Mark Grotjahn, Nikko Mueller, Susie Rosmarin and Brenna Youngblood.

1337 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice | | (310) 401-0191 | Through September 27

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