Red vs. black & white

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The weather last weekend seemingly had a nervous breakdown, constantly flipping between stormy downpours and short bursts of sunshine. With huge waves pounding at the shore, driving along the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu, to Pepperdine University, was quite an adventure. So, I was wondering how many people were going to show up for Sunday's opening of Larry Bell's exhibition at the Fredrick R. Weisman Museum of Art.

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(T) Installation view of "Larry Bell: Pacific Red"
at the Weisman Museum of Art in Malibu, California
(B) Larry Bell, "Pacific Red II," 2017> Laminated Glass
Courtesy of the Larry Bell Studio

It turned out to be quite a large crowd, which shouldn't be a surprise, considering the international reputation of Larry Bell (b. 1939) –– a founder of the California Light and Space movement. Upon entering the exhibition –– weather be damned –– everyone was greeted with a happy burst of the bright red color that dominates the whole exhibition, which is appropriately titled Pacific Red. In the first gallery, I walked through the imposing red glass labyrinth of the sculptural installation "Pacific Red II."

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(L&R) Larry Bell, "C.S. 9.19.15," 2015
Mixed media on red Hiromi paper
Courtesy of Larry Bell Studio

And then, in the main gallery, I saw a series of recent mixed media prints of Larry Bell's trademark abstract compositions, evoking either the female body or the stormy sky. The youthful optimism and endless energy of these new works gave me a much-needed reminder that life is good.

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(T) Installation view of "Rachel Lachowicz, Lay Back and Enjoy It"
at Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery
(B) Rachel Lachowicz at her studio

Coming to the opening of the Rachel Lachowicz exhibition at Shoshana Wayne Gallery, I was once again happily confronted by the color red. Though this time, it was delivered through the layers of melting red lipstick that cover the large-scale architectural constructions built by Lachowicz, who drew inspiration from the set of Clint Eastwood's 1973 film High Plains Drifter. These two structures –– the "Sheriff's Station" and the "Church" –– are completely covered in seductive red lipstick. With its delicate smell, the layers of lipstick not only please the eye but appeal to the nose as well.

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(T) Rachel Lachowicz at her studio
(B) Detail from "Lay Back and Enjoy It"
Courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery

It was an extra pleasure to be invited to visit Rachel Lachowicz's studio and to see the "art kitchen" where most of her works from the exhibition were made. The only thing that I regret was not being able to observe the artist as she melted the massive amount of lipstick and then dipped hundreds of pieces of wood into this red concoction. One can be sure that it was a labor-intensive process, but the resulting exhibition comes across as an inspiring, dream-like fantasy.

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(L) Nikolay Rakhamov, "September 1st," 1960s
Courtesy of Duncan Miller Gallery
(R) Grigory Dubinsky, "Bread has arrived," 1960s
Courtesy of Duncan Miller Gallery

Another exhibition I went to see this past weekend was a group exhibition of Soviet Photography: 1930–1985, presented by Duncan Miller Gallery. These works of over 20 photographers has never been seen in the US before. And it took gallery director Daniel Miller several trips to Moscow to find the artists or their descendants and acquire these works.

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A. Egrov, "Star on Moscow River Station," 1937
Courtesy of Duncan Miller Gallery

Most of the photographs give an intimate look into the everyday lives of ordinary people: a boy proudly walking with two loaves of bread; school children crossing a busy street with the help of a policeman; a construction worker on top of a high-rise installing a gigantic hammer and sickle –– the iconic symbol of the Soviet Union. Upon entering this exhibition, one is greeted by large lettering in Cyrillic that for many visitors might be a mystery. But here's the translation: from Russia with love.

Photos are by Edward Goldman unless otherwise indicated.



Benjamin Gottlieb