EXCELLENT RECIPE FOR A MID-SUMMER DISH:
TAKE A BRAZILIAN ARTIST - EDGARD DE SOUZA
ADD AMERICAN VETERAN - JOHN McCRACKEN
SPICE IT WITH LENI RIEFENSTAHL
AND FINISH WITH GERMAN NEWCOMER ANTON HENNING
There is little in common between Brazilian sculptor Edgard de Souza and American artist John McCracken, with the exception that both are showing in L.A. Louver Gallery in adjacent rooms on the ground floor. It's obvious that both artists place a high value on meticulous craftsmanship in their work. However, de Souza, who was born in 1962, around the time when McCracken first came to prominence, still seems like a person who is searching for his signature style. His sculptures, with their vaguely bio-morphic forms and sly erotic references, have pleasing pearly finishes which appear smooth to the touch. But next to McCracken's majestic horizontal slabs of color in the adjoining room, his art-making comes across as a little too busy, too eager to amuse and to please.
John McCracken makes the impossible possible, by capturing the complexity and ambiguity of colors, and even emotions, through the most minimalistic, disciplined shapes and forms. Each of his five sculptures, comprised of fiberglass and plywood, has, by now, a familiar, elongated rectangular shape. Each is coated with resin and lacquer that are applied in multiple layers. The final layers are carefully sanded and polished to the extent of turning the surface into fascinating deep pools of mysterious color. Makes you think about the smooth surface of a garden pond under a full moon.
Next to L.A. Louver Gallery, at Griffin Contemporary, there is an exhibition of rare photographs by a woman who defies all rules applied to mere mortals. At the age of 101, Leni Riefenstahl is the most famous filmmaker of the century - equally hated and admired. Her two movies, Triumph of the Will and Olympia, were used to maximum effect by the Nazi propaganda machine. However, she still refuses any responsibility, claiming that her intentions were purely artistic. Here at the gallery, one can have a rare glimpse of her black and white photos made during the filming of OLYMPIA. They are from a unique portfolio made by the artist as a present to the head of the German Uffa Film Studio.
At the Christopher Grimes Gallery there is an exhibition of the German painter Anton Henning that presents - depending on one's mood - a dazzling, or confusing, variety of styles and subjects. There are large interiors of his studios in Berlin; there are female and male nudes, including the artist's self-portrait; there are large still-lifes of flowers and, unexpectedly, a few abstract compositions. The artist is not shy about either the subject or the color; some paintings are monochromatic, with colors that may catch you off-guard. Even his brushwork has something of an in-your-face quality. He is clearly a provocateur, and a very talented one at that. Anton Henning is also a good student of modern and contemporary art, with the skills to match. The only disappointment is that the artist chose not to paint the gallery walls with colorful interlocking geometric shapes as a backdrop for his paintings, the way he has done for his previous shows. For that, you might want to check out his catalogue.
"Edgard de Souza" and
"John McCracken: New Sculptures"
July 9 - August 30, 2003
LA Louver Gallery
45 North Venice Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
July 12 - August 16, 2003
55 N. Venice Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
"Anton Henning: Was Ihr Wollt! (What You Want!)"
July 18 - August 30, 2003
Christopher Grimes Gallery
916 Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401