It took a lot to get me out of the house last night in the rain. It took Viggo Mortensen. I was supposed to go with Steffie to Track 16, Bergamot Station in Santa Monica to see the opening of Viggo Mortensen and Georg Gudni's new show called
“The Nature of Landscape and Independent Perception” Steffie, however, bailed and for a fleeting moment I thought that meant I was off the hook. I thought it meant I could stay in and be my loser self and sand things with my new sander while listening to random Internet radio shows like Mountain Apple Radio: Sounds of Hawaii or David Byrne's Playlist. But then, suddenly I got all Helen Reddy about going out by myself. So I dressed up and headed over to Santa Monica, my pretentious neighboring town, arriving an hour before the gallery closed. It was easy to spot the Santa Monicans because I have a sword that turns blue when they approach. (if you got that then you're a big LOTR loser too). The parking lot was rank with them as they spilled out of the gallery, heading for their SUVS, their expensive shoes clicking like cloven hooves on the inky pavement. Still, I found a fair number of people milling about inside. I grabbed a Grolsch and joined in on the milling, starting off near Georg Gudni's large abstract landscape paintings.
Just horizons, wide expansive horizons, but they make you fill in the space that's missing with your memories, the empty mist that blurs the horizon above reminds me of being on a lake, I was 14 or 15, in a small rowboat, I was with my first boyfriend and it was a heavily-clouded day and this mist crept in and suddenly we were surrounded by a fog as thick as lentil soup (as they say in some parts of this country I am sure). The world had disappeared around us. He stole a kiss, just a kiss, and I didn't ask for it back. Ah, young love.I don't know what the painting meant to anybody else and I didn't care. That's exactly what that painting was—that memory. I wish I could afford that painting. Not all of Gudni's landscapes recalled an event that happened in my life specifically, but they all stirred some kind of feeling, some take on isolation, it seemed to me, a happy isolation, an isolation filled with regret, another self-imposed and retrospective.
It was so perfect that Mortensen's photographs were paired with those paintings. His photos were canvases colored with light, with slow shutter speeds and photographic tricks I won't pretend to know about. I thought of them as Rorschach tests, it's what you see in them that reflects your memories and thoughts. The one with a bunch of white wispy circles (not pictured) reminded me of the smoke rings my Gramps used to make when exhaling his cigarillo. Nestled in the back at the end of Mortensen's wing, you'll find a wall filled with square framed fish eye photos. They look like snow globes. And the thing about snow globes is they seem to magically capture some moment (usually with snow or glitter fanfare). These photos did the same thing, finding a bleached jaw of an animal in a desert —a frozen moment of discovery (not pictured). Or below, running through the woods right before your mother calls you in for dinner—a frozen moment of independence. That's what I see. You should go and see what memories they stir in you.
The show runs until Feb. 18Th. I wound up gallery hopping but nothing spoke to me as deeply, but there is some pretty cool shit over at Bergamot right now. I'm glad it's so close. I guess Santa Monica can be pretty cool. Sometimes…
(for more on Viggo, check out Seven McDonald's piece about a fairy queen obsessed with him in this week's LA Weekly).