Iona Brown at Sandroni.Rey
Joyce Treiman at Laband Art Gallery
Thomas Struth at MOCA
Leni Riefensthal at Fahey/Klein Gallery
With September being almost over, one can say that the autumn season in L.A. started off on a very good note. As tradition goes, museums and galleries save their best for this time of year. L.A. Louver Gallery presents a one-man show of Gajin Fujita, which demonstrates this young artist's flamboyant, over the top, yet very smart paintings varying in size from murals to tiny ones. Having made quite a splash at last year's Site Santa Fe extravaganza, Gajin Fujita makes his L.A. debut with this show. Though he is not the first artist to borrow from the aesthetic of old Japanese prints, he is the first to do it without any reverence toward tradition, like a young bull in a china shop. His fierce warriors cut their enemies' throats with such vengeance that it would scare off even the most hardened visitors, if not for the eye popping colors laid on top of a gilded background and topped off with a generous dollop of graffiti inspired text. And a lot of hot sex in Fujita's art doesn't hurt either, adding to the buzz over his show. A piece of advice: Don't bring your mother-in-law to see this one.
At Sandroni.Rey Gallery on Abbot Kinney Blvd., there is a show of Iona Brown's figurative paintings. The artist mines for inspiration the same source, old Japanese prints, but the resulting images of geishas with their wink-wink references to a modern life and hip-hop music are too mannered, coy and ultimately too respectful of their original source. Gajin Fujita making mincemeat of the Japanese printmaking tradition comes off with much more vibrant and convincing art.
If you received your driver's license more than 20 years ago, you may remember the idiosyncratic art of the late Joyce Treiman, one of the better L.A. artists. There is a good show of her prints and drawings at Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University. Stubbornly and resolutely devoted to figurative art, Joyce Treiman possessed the remarkable skill of a draftsman and the truly one of a kind sensibility of a sad clown. This show definitely whet my appetite to see more of her art, especially her paintings. This is an artist deserving of a serious museum retrospective. Let's hope that someday the L.A. museums will get less insecure about paying a long overdue tribute to L.A.'s best artists.
Going down the list of new exhibitions in town, it's difficult not to notice the strong presence of German artists. From an impressive retrospective of Thomas Struth's photographs at MOCA to a modest in scale, but ambitious survey of 4 young Berlin-based painters at Christopher Grimes Gallery. Thomas Struth, celebrated for his huge color photographs of people standing in front of famous artworks in museums, knows how to create a spectacle, how to please his audience, how to leave them wanting more. With an uncanny eye for detail, the photographer waits for museum visitors to move, to place themselves unconsciously in front of a painting or sculpture in such a way that an intriguing tension between them and the work of art comes to the fore. The artist emphasizes our voyeurism by making us look at images of people who, in turn, are looking at art themselves.
And finally, the one and only she-devil of German art, 100-year-old Leni Riefenstahl, still going strong, still eliciting admiration and hate in equal amounts. Check out her show "The Last of the Nuba" at Fahey/Klein Gallery. This woman and her art refuses to live according to anyone's rules.
For more information:
"Gajin Fujita: Wicked Beauty"
September 12 - October 12, 2002
L.A. Louver Gallery
45 North Venice Blvd., Venice, CA 90291
"Iona Brown. a3 - black on both sides"
September 7 - October 12, 2002
1224 Abbot Kinney, Venice, CA 90291
"Drawing Attention: Joyce Treiman on Paper"
September 14 - November 16, 2002
Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University
One LMU Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90045
September 15 - January 5, 2002
Museum of Contemporary Art
300 S. Grand Ave., Los Angles, CA 90012
"Bilder aus Berlin: Daniela Brahm, Anton Herring, Achim Kobe, Erik Schmidt"
September 5 - October 12, 2002
Christopher Grimes Gallery
916 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90401
"Leni Riefenstahl. The Last of the Nuba"
September 12 - October 19, 2002
148 North La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036