As Highland Avenue becomes the new center for contemporary art in L.A., it also has become the site of some gorgeous spaces. Architect Michael Maltzan designed Regen Projects, Kulapat Yantrasat did Perry Rubenstein's gallery, not to forget Diane Rosenstein's impressive year-old gallery. Another space, less large but inviting in the use of old brick to soften the usual white walls, is that of Hannah Hoffman, who used to work with New York dealer Gavin Brown.
At this time of year, most galleries feature group shows as the summer comes to a close. But the one at Hoffman has remained with me, a group of young artists who happen to be friends with one another: Sam Falls, Jacob Kassay, Matt Sheridan Smith and Joe Zorrilla.
Falls trained in photography and, until now, has combined it with painting, one of a number of artists dissolving boundaries between those two media. But in this show, there are paintings in luscious, organic colors, indebted to the aqueous veils of 1960s Color Field art but achieved by means closer to that of Process art. Dried pigment on fabric is subjected to the pouring rain in Topanga Canyon, where he had a studio. A hefty length of rope determines the movement of paint and is then affixed to the completed work, in the center or around the perimeter. The color is about as uplifting as a rainbow after a rainy day. They seem an amalgamation of many diverse sources including his interest in poetry. Clearly at ease with borrowing from various aspects of contemporary art history, Falls also ventured into sculpture with a slab of steel and a slab of marble fitted together to form an "X." Noguchi and Serra would seem to be the influences but Hoffman told me that it was generated by seeing the patinas on marble tombstones.
While Falls dominates the small show, Kassay presents a painting of translucent muslin stretched over bars that remain visible and delineate a vertical rectangle with an indentation along one edge. It derives from his use of remnants of canvas whose irregular shapes determine the outline of the painting. In this case, light filters through the translucent material, revealing the wall behind it, enhancing its dimensions. He also excavated deep recesses in the concrete gallery floor that relate to works in the show. New Yorker Kassay, also initially educated in photography, is doubtless the best known in the show since his work shot up in value to the high five figures in a couple of benefit auctions a few years ago.
Along with the poisonous plants of Matt Sheridan Smith and the captivatingly odd video by Joe Zorilla, this is a smart selection of cool customers for a hot season. For more information, go to hannahhoffmangallery.com.
Sam Falls, Untitled (Tombstone 2), 2013; Calacatta gold and corten steel