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Installation view of "Magdalena Fernández" at MOCA Pacific Design Center
Courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Photo by Joshua White

Modernism, or modernismo, has it is termed in Latin America, often has been expressed with a greater insouciance than in Europe, where it was born. With the rise of globalism in the past two decades, many of these Latin American artists have gained international recognition. In 2011, Alma Ruiz, then senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, included a number of them in her memorable exhibition Supersensorial, which featured the especially influential Venezuelan Jesus Rafael Soto. (1923-2005)

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Installation view of "Magdalena Fernández" at MOCA Pacific Design Center
Courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Photo by Joshua White

Ruiz has since left MOCA but completed one last exhibition that is now on view at the Pacific Design Center Gallery. Magdalena Fernández, also from Venezuela, was born in 1964. Being from a younger generation, she has expanded ideas about geometric abstract art into the realm of video installations. Her initial education and practice as in graphic designer and subsequent work with minimalist architect AG Fronzoni, contributed to the successful integration of time, space and content in this show.

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Installation view of "Magdalena Fernández" at MOCA Pacific Design Center
Courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Photo by Joshua White

You walk into the darkened space and hear the cheery chattering sounds of birds. The downstairs gallery features a circle of red light projected onto one wall and pinpoints of white light projected as diagonal grid onto the opposite wall. Both are subtly changing digital animations with sound. Walking up the stairs, you look up to see a delicate construction of bearing tiny white lights and when you emerge on the upper level, you are confronted by a black and white projection of leaves swooshing around the floor. Projected onto the walls are geometric arrangements of line and color that are altered constantly in response to more of the bird calls.

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Installation view of "Magdalena Fernández" at MOCA Pacific Design Center
Courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Photo by Joshua White

What Mondrian did in painting, reducing his paintings of trees to sublime grids of primary colors and lines, Fernández does in the realm of digital animation, drawing from the natural realm of tropical Carracas to add a lush, emotional dimension to her installations. As she said, it "opens the door to the world, to nature, and allows me, suddenly, to imagine a Mondrian in motion when I see a macaw or I listen to the rain." Magdalena Fernández, which is free to the public, continues through January 3.

Given James Turrell’s monumental reputation as an artist, I paused at mentioning his latest show at Kayne Griffin Corcoran. But the new direction of this veteran of light and space overcame that resistance. Long known for his installations open to the sky or an expanse of wall, his latest series is Elliptical Glass. These portals, about the size of a large window, open to thousands of subtle, slowly changing shades of light and color that pass over the course of two and a half hours. The sense of containment enhances their intensity. As he says, his art is all about seeing. The show also features series of prints based upon his 2013 Guggenheim exhibition Aten Reign. It is on view through January 16, 2016. 

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