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Pia Camil
Frontera, 2014
Hand dyed and stitched canvas
94 1/2 x 94 1/2 inches (240 x 240 centimeters)
Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

Abstraction abounds in Culver City galleries but there is one artist who takes the whole enterprise to another level: Pia Camil, who is based in Mexico City but educated at RISD and the Slade School of Fine Art. The Little Dog Laughed, as the show is called, was inspired by the title of a short story written by Arturo Bandini, protagonist of the John Fante novel Ask The Dust about L.A. during the Depression. The show is on view at Blum and Poe through August 23.


Pia Camil
The Little Dog Laughed, 2014
Hand dyed and stitched canvas
108 1/4 x 330 11/16 inches (275 x 840 centimeters)
Installed dimensions variable

Using Mexican billboards as source material, Camil borrows the shapes of letters or numbers, using just fragments so that they are no longer legible, and transforms them into three different bodies of work: paintings, ceramic sculpture and a curtain running the length of a wall.


Pia Camil
The Little Dog Laughed
Installation view, 2014
Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

The paintings are actually composed of hand-dyed fabrics that are stitched together in tight units of deep or pale colors, occasionally distressed by spots and streaks. From a distance, they come across graphically to encourage a close reading that is then thwarted by their illegibility. This is especially true of the large scale curtain, which is draped in ways that pull together the pieces of “O” or “N” in magenta and tangerine, lime and blue.  In the past, she has incorporated these curtains or other great swaths of fabric, into performances but these go beyond artifacts to hold their own as a new iteration of soft sculpture. 


Pia Camil
The Little Dog Laughed
Installation view, 2014
Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

In the center of the gallery, resting on scrim-backed black metal shelving referencing modern design, the partial letters have been executed as ceramics. Glazed in yellow, blue, maroon, aqua, at times they take on the appearance of mid-20th century wares.  They could be vases but their functionality is limited by their forms, the opposite of the modernist dictum that form follows function. Camil’s entire exhibition is taking apart ideas and preconceptions and repurposing them. With the elements of sewing and craft, the curtain and the shelving, this is also a show that takes on the itchy line between domestic and official spaces and activities,  an itch that women have been scratching in their art for some time. For more information, go to blumandpoe.com.


Matthew Carter
Uncanny Valley, 2014
acrylic, glitter, graphite, wood, linen
54 x 33.5 in.
Image courtesy: Luis De Jesus Los Angeles

For an irreverent exploration of abstraction, check out Matthew Carter in hellequinharlequinclown at Luis de Jesus Los Angeles through August 23. Using the diamond-shaped patterns of the Harlequin costume intriguing to so many painters before him, Carter crafts rigorous and yet droll pictures. Some of the diamond patterns are filled with colored glitter and imposed on opaque scrim. Stretcher bars are not altogether straight and layers of pattern and loose gestures are superimposed so that you look at and then through the painting just as artists today look at and through the history of art that preceded them. For more information, go to luisdejesus.com.  


Kenneth Noland
Bolton Landing: Singing the Blues, 1962
Acrylic on canvas
64 x 64 inches

For a modest survey of abstract painting, the sort promoted by critic Clement Greenberg, go to Openness and Clarity: Color Field Works from the 1960s and 1970s, curated by Hayden Dunbar for Honor Fraser Gallery. Works by Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Frank Stella, (including the controversial loan from Moca) and others make for rewarding viewing, especially with so many younger artists playing in that pool today. Hurry. The show closes August 2. For more information, go to honorfraser.com

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