A number of talented Los Angeles artists are having important solo shows this month, including contemporary artists EJ Hill and Ulysses Jenkins, and key figures of the Chicano art movement, Carlos Almaraz and Richard Duardo. If you’re into art fairs, February is host to three, and don’t miss the Getty’s fascinating-sounding exhibition on art and anatomy.
Matthew Thomas: Enlightenment
When: February 5–August 7
Where: California African American Museum (CAAM) (600 State Drive, Exposition Park, Los Angeles)
Matthew Thomas began studying Eastern religions in the late ’60s, and his artwork over the past 50 years reflects a deep, life-long engagement with Buddhist spiritual practices and ways of thought. These take the form of brightly colored geometric abstractions filled with sacred symbols borrowed from not just Buddhism, but numerous cultures and religions, a kind of road map to enlightenment. His solo show at CAAM will feature recent paintings capturing his ideas of universal harmony as well as a site-specific installation.
Jamal Cyrus and Sara Cwynar at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
When: February 5–May 29
Where: Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1717 East 7th Street, Downtown, Los Angeles)
The ICA LA is simultaneously opening two exciting exhibitions: the first museum survey of Jama Cyrus and a presentation of Sara Cwynar’s most recent video works. Cyrus’s exhibition spans two decades of his work, including sculptures, assemblages, and textiles that mine African American identity, with a special focus on the culture of record shops. Cwynar’s videos, which include essay-style films, includes a six-channel installation called “Glass Life” (2021) and a video on the color red as a symbol of beauty.
Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation
When: February 6–May 15
Where: Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood, Los Angeles)
Without Your Interpretation is the first major retrospective of pioneering video and performance artist Ulysses Jenkins. The exhibition covers 50 years of work from the LA-based artist, who dubbed himself a “video griot,” a moniker that reflects a fusion of oral and musical traditions with forms of mass media. Beginning with the collective he founded in the early ’70s, Video Venice News, through collaborations with artists like David Hammons and Senga Nengudi, and his own solo projects, Jenkins’s work implicates the media in enforcing systems of white supremacy, while showing the potential of video and technology to offer independent narratives.
EJ Hill: Wherever we will to root
When: February 17–April 22
Where: Oxy Arts (4757 York Boulevard, Highland Park, Los Angeles)
A throughline in EJ Hill’s work is an insistence on representation and visibility, especially for those who have previously been marginalized and excluded from cultural spaces. For the Hammer Museum’s Made in LA 2018, this took the form of a grueling durational performance, during which Hill stood on a podium for every hour the museum was open during the exhibition’s run. With Wherever we will to root, Hill pivots to a less physically demanding tactic, one rooted in healing, rebirth, and joy. The show features 13 large-scale floral paintings, completed during his 2021 Wanlass Artist Residency at Oxy Arts, representing a defiant act of “noncompliance to the expectations built around certain bodies and their cultural production,” as Oxy Arts Director Meldia Yesayan notes.
Art Fairs: Frieze, Felix, and Spring/Break Art Show
When: Frieze and Felix: February 18–20; Spring/Break Art Show: February 17–20
Where: Frieze: 9900 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California; Felix: Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (7000 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles); Spring/Break Art Show: Skylight Culver City (5880 Adams Boulevard, Culver City)
After a pandemic-related hiatus last year, Frieze LA is back. The third LA edition of the international art fair will feature 100 galleries from 17 countries including 38 from Los Angeles. Offering a more curated selection than the main section, Amanda Hunt, director of Public Programs & Creative Practice, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, has organized Focus LA, dedicated to 11 younger homegrown spaces including Garden, Gattopardo, In Lieu, Stanley’s, and Bel Ami. One big change is the venue, which will shift from the iconic Paramount Studios lot to 9900 Wilshire in Beverly Hills, next door to the Beverly Hilton hotel.
Felix, the relatively scrappy, laid-back alternative to Frieze, returns to the storied Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, just six months after the 2021 edition. Sixty international galleries will occupy the cabanas around the pool (painted by David Hockney), and the tower suites. Participating galleries ranging from established veterans to young upstart include Gavlak, Jack Hanley Gallery, PPOW, Chris Sharp Gallery, Nicodim, and Nonaka-Hill. And a third edition of the Spring/Break Art Show is coming to a 30,000-square-foot warehouse in Culver City with 50 immersive installations (their installations tend to be actually immersive).
Flesh and Bones: The Art of Anatomy
When: February 22–July 10
Where: Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, Los Angeles)
The body is beautiful and amazingly complex — it’s no wonder that it has been the subject of art for centuries. This exhibition examines art and anatomy from the 16th century to the present, including scientific illustrations, anatomized sculpture, and 3-D stereoscopic photographs.
When: through February 20
Where: Monte Vista Projects (1206 Maple Ave, #523, Downtown, Los Angeles)
In the US, the promises of freedom, prosperity, and independence have largely been made possible through a robust infrastructure system. Conversely, when those networks of roads, bridges, and dams begin to fail through neglect, the cracks in the American Dream become evident. Infrastructure Lovers, a group show at collective Monte Vista Projects, brings together artists who explore the potential of infrastructure to foster connection and progress, while critiquing the pitfalls of unfettered expansion and short-sighted development.
Snake whisky still life and other stories
When: through February 20
Where: Various Small Fires (812 N. Highland Ave, Hollywood, Los Angeles)
Snake whisky still life and other stories features artists represented by or associated with Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis, especially Native American and Indigenous artists. It includes photographs by Cara Romero that depict Native American, female experiences; Jim Denomie’s symbolic paintings that reflect his Ojibwe heritage; and Eric-Paul Riege’s performance-based textile works. The gallery’s sound corridor is filled by the sound of galloping hooves, an audio installation by collective Postcommodity referencing the recent photos of Border Control agents on horseback intercepting Haitian migrants.
Carlos & Richard: Almaraz Serigraphs from Modern Multiples, 1985–1990
When: through February 26
Where: Bermudez Projects (1225 Cypress Ave, Cypress Park, Los Angeles)
Carlos Almaraz’s artworks are explosions of deep color: a purple sunset at Echo Park, a fiery car crash. Known for his paintings and murals, in the last decade of his life he made a series of prints with fellow artist Richard Duardo. This exhibition shares this friendship and collaboration between two key figures of the Chicano art movement in Los Angeles.
Tori Wrånes: Mussel Tears
When: through March 12
Where: Shulamit Nazarian (612 N. LaBrea Ave, Fairfax, Los Angeles)
Norwegian artist Tori Wrånes’s multi-disciplinary practice encompasses performance, sound, painting, and sculpture to produce fantastical worlds strung between reality and myth. Mussel Tears is inspired by her hometown of Kristiansand, a small fishing village, whose mussels are now threatened by environmental decline. Sculptures of intertwined humans and animals, corporeally suggestive abstract painting, and mussel shells embedded in cement are joined by the artist’s non-verbal vocalizations, pointing to an interconnectedness of life forms.
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