Painting In Place, Los Angeles Nomadic Division

LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) is presenting Painting in Place, a group exhibition in downtown Los Angeles’s Farmers and Merchants Bank forging an unlikely gallery space. The exhibition, curated by LAND Director/Curator Shamim M. Momin, formerly of the Whitney Museum, features work from a wide array of contemporary artists. The unconventional setting is fitting given the artists utilization of traditional and avant-garde tactics. The works, which use a multitude of subjects in disparate forms tackling the discipline from different perspectives, expand the limits of painting through various techniques.

Sarah Cain, Matt Greene, Olga Koumounduros,Los Angeles Nomadic Division

Painting In Place exhibition view, 2013, courtesy LAND

Some do this by renegotiating and subverting the space, as Olga Koumounduros does with Possession;version3 where the artist has painted a rainbow through the space winding from floor to ceiling. Likewise Sarah Cain’s Runaway is a painting that fall somewhere between abstract expressionism in its gestural brush strokes, signs of work and the graffiti in it’s vivid palette and scrawling lines as well as physically being composed on a window and wall. These works, Possession;version3 in particular, manifest the deceased, famed painter Mark Rothko’s sentiment “However you paint the larger pictures, you are in it. It isn’t something you command,” as he declared in Paint Very Large Pictures (1951).

Other artists work with painting in a sculptural manner bringing the painting into three dimensional space through assemblage and construction. Matt Greene’s for her/lost it/way decapitated which is made of paintings propped on an architectural wood frame along with found objects, such as axes, melds these opposing mediums to theatrically striking almost ominous results. Alexandra Grant meanwhile works completely without paint as a medium in I see my self in you but creates a trompe l’oeil effect by pairing neon lights and mirror. With this work we see how contemporary three dimensional installation can work in spatially with the historically painterly tactic of illusion.

Alexandra Grant I see my self in you,2013 Neon and Mirror courtesy LAND

Alexandra Grantm I see my self in you, 2013, Neon and Mirror, courtesy LAND

Nate Lowman brings us back to paint on canvas with his two works on view but does so while incorporating found objects, as he does most clearly with the paper sign in Emmployees Only or distorting the canvas itself by cutting into it, as in Sitting On A Ruin. Rita Ackermann works more traditionally but abstractly on unstretched canvas in her Neolithic like Fire by Days XVII. Kon Trubkovich like Ackermann works with paint in a traditional 1 dimensional surface, himself on panel. The painting Red Square recalls the distorting signal flares of analog television, conceptually transforming the panel into a screen. Additionally like Grant we see Trubkovich displacing medium, which creates a thoroughly postmodern tactic of its own.

Kon Trubkovich Red Square,2013 Oil on canvas,wood,sandbags,2013 Courtesy LAND

Kon Trubkovich, Red Square, 2013, Oil on canvas, wood, sandbags, 2013. Courtesy LAND

While Lowman, Greene and others work in multi-medium or simply on the canvas, Rashid Johnson’s medium remains unfixed. Working in abstraction with the painterly monochrome wall piece Cosmic Slop “Signs of Life.” But physically as well with his burned wood chair like sculptures and his ready made zebra hide rug. While the sculptures can be read like minimalistic painting, in their stark appearance and pallet, they are the most challenging piece to see in kinship with painting. The zebra hide rug functions like Koumounduros’ painting across space bringing composition away from the pure white wall, while it also uses the organic shape and pattern of the hide cleverly as a ‘painting.’

view of works by Rashid Johnson, Painting In Place,2013

View of works by Rashid Johnson, Painting In Place, 2013.

Painting in Place as an exhibition works as a survey of fascinating, intriguing new notions in and about art. While also provocatively refiguring painting as a discipline and medium. This refrigeration seems to occur both as an observance and as a curatorial instigating suggestion. The avant-garde notions and progressive curatorial elements join to create work and an exhibition that is both startling and greatly interesting. Ultimately what makes the exhibition’s concept, the works and curator, so challenging and simultaneously exciting is how paint has traditionally so connoted and defined fine art and here painting is work with both within its definition and in defines of it.

Painting in Place, curated by Shamim Momin, LAND, Farmers and Merchants Bank, Los Angeles through July 31, 2013

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by Robin Newman
in Focus on the American West

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