Kevin Salatino, curator of prints and drawings at LACMA, kept a straight face while offering amusing, often unprintable information about northern European travelers arriving in Italy to immerse themselves in the country's history and culture, but were more often than not giving in to temptations against which their priests and parents had warned them sternly. The sexual escapades of the rich and famous were amply illustrated by slides of erotic artworks, from Greek and Roman antiquities to 18th and 19th century often pornagraphic drawings.
No one in the audience complained. Everyone was warned beforehand of the rather risque subject of the lecture. Kevin Salatino's presentation was a rare combination of academic research mixed with a dead pan delivery. Very appropriate and very funny.
While the Getty's public had been warned ahead of time, the innocent visitors to the Christopher Grimes gallery had no such chance. The new works by German artist Herbert Hamak, like silent sirens whom no one can resist, once more worked their dangerous charm over viewers. Try to visualize rectangular blocks of semi-translucent pale colors, protruding from the wall and appearing serene and assertive at the same time. They come across as either hardened blocks of colored ice or soft blocks of warm, opaque wax. Herbert Hamak's art can be described as paintings or as sculptures; but it is a rare instance of being both. Made with resin binding agents and pigment on linen, his works are not painted but cast in molds. Their surface has the subtle texture of a baby's skin and whether you are standing in front or looking at them from various angles you notice how its color changes as if it had a mind of its own.
In a breach of protocol, I touched Hamak's panels, I am ashamed to admit, more than once. I wanted to taste, to lick them up as delectable morsels at the gourmet shop. If no one had been watching I would have made a complete fool of myself.
Los Angeles based Cuban born artist Jorge Pardo has a strong following for his unique brand of art making. His most famous project is turning his Silver Lake house into a very complex and evolving environmental sculptural project. He is less known as a painter. Two monumental in scale paintings are now on display at the space called1301PE, kitty corner from the former May Co. Bldg at 6150 Wilshire Bldg.
The paintings consist of several rectangular panels each bearing bright, geometric design, printed on canvas by an ink jet printer. Here and there one can notice a broad brush stroke, a welcome gesture that balances a computer generated design with a more personal touch. I need more time to sort out my thoughts about these new works by Jorge Pardo, but I was impressed by the energy and authority of his new paintings, the way they lord over the gallery space. Anyway, I liked them enough to recommend that you not miss them.
J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive Suite 400
Christopher Grimes Gallery
916 Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401
February 16 - March 16 2002
6150 Wilshire Boulevard