Art Insider Nov. 14: Romance of fatherhood, digitally-influenced paintings, and more

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This week, we look at an art show about the romance and challenges of fatherhood, paintings with digital influences, and a retail pop-up store  in a gallery. 

“A Divine Dance” exhibition by Srijon Chowdhury 
Anat Ebgi gallery

Srijon Chowdhury, Pale Rider (detail) (2019). Oil on canvas, 84 x 192 inches.
Image courtesy of the artist and Anat Ebgi. Photo: Michael Underwood.

In a Culver City gallery, a pale, ghostly woman lays astride a horse, scythe in hand, as if headed into battle. Anat Ebgi’s press release points us to a somewhat overdramatic William Blake poem. “Cruelty has a Human Heart / And Jealousy a Human Face,” it reads. Artist Srijon Chowdhury lifts this text to create a gate-like pattern over the female rider, abstracting letters until few are legible. 

In another painting nearby, a similar female figure, pregnant, holds a child and emerges from a red field of ghostly apparitions, as if triumphing over evil. 

Contrasting all this romantic drama alluding to war, triumph, and jealousy, a small, dark painting called “3am” depicts a baby in a crib as it’s being bottle fed. 

But it’s in a painting partitioned to the gallery office, depicting the artist’s partner giving a water birth, that Chowdbury (a recent father of two) pinpoints the exhibition—amidst its darker themes—toward fatherhood and the majestic process of childbirth.

Srijon Chowdhury, Birth (detail) (2019). Oil on linen, 24 x 36 inches.
Image courtesy the artist and Anat Ebgi. Photo: Michael Underwood.

As an artist and new father, Srijon Chowdhury discusses some of his uncertainty around having children in our current moment. “The kind of anxiety of having a kid with the apocalypse looming...” he ponders. “I think about my daughter who is a year and a half, and my son who is about to be born...there is a real anxiety about bringing children into this world that doesn’t seem like it will be inhabitable for a full lifetime for them. But it is still incredibly beautiful and beyond comprehension to experience life, and a blessing.” 

Chowdhury was struck by this beauty during a particular moment of his partner Anna’s delivery of their first child, and depicts this in his painting “Birth.” He says, “It was a crazy, life changing moment and I couldn’t believe how beautiful and otherworldly Anna looked, almost like St. Theresa.”

On View: November 2–December 14, 2019


“Strange Little Beast” exhibit by  Annie Lapin 
Shulamit Nazarian gallery

nnie Lapin, Encounter Counter (heap 4) (detail) (2019). Oil, acrylic, and charcoal, 72 x 96 inches.
Image courtesy of the artist and Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles.

There’s something familiar about Annie Lapin’s paintings. The compositions look almost like ripped paper, as if someone tore up images from an art history textbook, a Grateful Dead concert, and a family vacation, and threw them together into a pile. 

The familiarity comes into play with art historical landscapes, e.g. Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass, that the artist faithfully reproduces alongside psychedelic cloudscapes that give way to raw canvas and more abstract marks. 

When working, the artist flips between the computer and the canvas, sourcing images online and toying with collages in Photoshop before painstakingly reproducing them in paint. As such, Lapin simultaneously engages in the age-old process of painting, and the daily barrage of information and images. In our Instagram-age, art history, a burning rainforest, a friend’s dog, and a tie-dyed shirt can all collapse together and share digital space.

On View: November 9–December 21, 2019


A Store Show
Odd Ark LA

A Store Show at Odd Ark LA (installation view) (2019). Photo: Yvonne Bas Tull.

As both an artist and art critic, I am well aware of stigmas that exist around artists moonlighting in other fields, even if those disciplines relate closely to art: writing, design, fashion, or functional ceramics. Luckily, the category of artist seems to be expanding, and it is more commonplace these days for artists to also sell functional objects at a lower cost than their artwork. 

In this spirit, Odd Ark LA has collected small objects from over 90 artists in Los Angeles and displayed them on bodega-style shelves and racks — t-shirts, clocks, incense holders, posters, and small-scale sculptures share space, each clearly marked with names and prices (another art world faux pas). 

And unlike typical exhibitions where sold artwork remains on view for the duration of the show, at A Store Show, most items are available to take immediately upon purchase, creating a dynamic and changing environment that will shift over the course of the 5-week exhibition.  

On View: November 9–December 15, 2019