The art of Anish Kapoor, Larry Bell and Lee Mullican
Every time I see an exhibition by Anish Kapoor or even look at photographs of his gigantic public installations, I am struck by his ability to seduce and turn me into a wondering child. When he installed the humongous sculpture made of thousands of feet of stretched, red nylon at the entrance of the Tate Modern in London, millions of visitors became instantaneous converts to his brand of magic. His immense stainless steel biomorphic sculpture for Millennium Park in Chicago drew a unanimous, positive response from the public and critics, as well. Polished to mirror perfection, it reflects the sky, the buildings, the landscape and the people walking around in amazement. Now in L.A., we have our own chance to experience his art first hand, but hurry---his exhibition at Regen Projects in West Hollywood is closing this Saturday. In the first of two galleries, there is an s-shaped, 32 foot-long and more than 7 feet-tall, highly polished, stainless steel sculpture. Visually, it's striking: It plays an endless variety of tricks by reflecting an imperfect, mortal you in its concave and convex mirrors. It transforms the gallery into a temple-like space where we, the little people, are measured against the impossible and intimidating perfection of a higher power. In a second space, there are four more shiny sculptures, more domestic in scale, and ranging in color from a milky coffee to drying blood, to the blackness of deep night. The last one has the appearance of two flat disks---one large and one small---installed next to each other, but actually, they are two holes---the two open mouths of the horn-like sculpture that's buried inside the wall. Don't ask--it's too much for words.
And speaking of reflections: The L.A. art exhibition at the Pompidou Center in Paris continues to be a point of reference for me, while visiting the local galleries. There is a perfectly installed show of Larry Bell's glass cubes at the Frank Lloyd Gallery. It's his signature work, similar to the sculptures shown in Paris. But now, his new cubes, in spite of their familiar minimalism, contain even more smoky mystique. Walking around with your eyes trained on them, you become aware of the infinite subtlety of the visual signals that these cubes send out into the world. In my opinion, the rather indifferent installation of Larry Bell's cubes in the Pompidou, displayed on an inappropriate black platform, did a disservice to his art.
The late Lee Mullican (1919-98), the artist whose surprising absence from the Paris show was noted by a number of people, is commemorated in a tightly-focused exhibition at the Marc Selwyn Gallery. A dozen small and large canvases from the 1960s, with their smoldering palette of mostly red, orange and yellow, evoke the chaos and danger strangely harmonized within these complex, abstract compositions. Made me think about the mosaic-like backgrounds of those famous Gustav Klimt paintings in Vienna that, through a much-delayed, yet amazing twist of justice, were returned to the legal heir of the original owner who lives here in California. Starting next week, these five Gustav Klimt paintings will go on display at LACMA through mid-summer. And as far as I'm concerned, that's where the heavens will be for the next few months.
Lee Mullican: Paintings from the Sixties
Marc Selwyn Fine Art
Through April 19
6222 Wilshire Blvd. Ste. 101
Through April 1
633 North Almont Drive
Larry Bell: Cubes
Frank Lloyd Gallery
Through April 29
2525 Michigan Avenue B5b