Liz Young – Of Blood and Dirt

Liz Young – Of Blood and Dirt

You might call Liz Young a conceptual artist. One would certainly address some of her earlier work in such terms; and on a certain level, she still is – except that in her hands, the ‘concept’ is really a kind of generative nucleus of ideas, assuming form organically, not only resonating but respiring. I wouldn’t say that Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is necessarily either nucleus or inspiration for this compact show. But it is hardly accidental that she not only gives her single text piece (in gunpowder and polymer) in the show this title, but reproduces the book’s first two paragraphs. Mortality is everywhere in this show – even the Horse (2017), squarely confronting the viewer and enshrouded in its pale felt covering, evokes the riderless horse of funeral processions; also implied violence; yet there’s nothing morbid about it. Her silhouetted deer (in red ball point pen) are serene in death, though Dead Birds (2017) seem more deliberately fossilized – these are human souvenirs, after all. Trees (‘Bare’ and ‘Barest’) similarly emerge from black graphite shrouds, torn as much as pencilled into the paper. The hand’s Palm delivers a reading of human ambition in its scratchy grid of lines. Her arterial trees (in gunpowder for Chris Burden) make the earth-and-blood nexus explicit. Blood in the Roots (2017) – beautifully crafted with its intricately connected vasculature in felt-wrapped buckshot and delicately magneted together, is the show’s dark epilogue. Here, as in all of Young’s work, craft bears out the work’s consciousness. Young’s show evoked the Willa Cather of O Pioneers!, more than Capote, as if emerging from the ground up into strong headwinds blowing across the plains. I returned to the Capote page (directly across from Blood) as if to breathe in that flatline horizon and hard endless sky. Blood is all that finally returns to the elements and cosmic force that gave us life before the same forces whisk us out of the universe in this mordant yet elegiac show.

PØST
  1206 Maple Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Show runs thru May 20, 2017