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  • 80/50 Quiet Storm

    We read history for perspective on advancing and collapsing civilizations and their impacts on planetary life and (hopefully) an understanding of historical cycles and a sense of where we might all be headed (besides other planets). Art exhibitions, historical and otherwise, do not presume to offer this kind of perspective, but through the prism of curatorial scope and selection, can occasionally suggest parallels and intersections across a historical interval. The scope here is a range of abstraction played out between mid- to late-20th century generations – roughly ‘high baby-boom’ and ‘Gen-X’ (or possibly ‘Y’ – i.e., the pre-millennial), meaning before all hell broke loose. Curator (and gallery director) Carl Berg is a practiced hand at composing these kinds of fractured and fragmented views into coherent overviews, and this one comes across with a silken touch – a welcome note of serenity in these turbulent times. The parallels are striking: e.g., between, say Mieke Gelley’s roughly fragmented and seemingly collaged color abstractions and Samantha Thomas’s fractalized mappings/foliations in luminous blues (or her more austerely rectilinear, but aggressively pleated rendition); or Don Suggs’ Le Parc-esque pinwheels superimposed upon photographed landscapes and Devon Tsuno’s atmospheric/aquatic abstractions with their ‘interlineated’ references to actual landscape elements (less apparent here – where the emphasis is clearly on a unified field or uniformly abstracted environment). ‘Intra-generational’ comparisons can be made here, too – e.g., between Tsuno and Tom Mueske, whose eight All Over canvases in oil enamel reference a similarly unified field. The through-line is abstraction, with a variable emphasis on the gestural or expressive at one pole, and minimalism at the other (sometimes both by the same artist, e.g., Gerald Giamportone). A secondary through-line here is the natural world. Not all of the artists address this directly. Lies Kraal, Andy Kolar, and Anna-Maria Bogner all seem determinedly abstract. But (with the possible exception of Bogner – whose sculptural installation here is like an etherealized Richard Serra), even Kraal and Kolar invoke an ideal domain (of color, order, gesture) that make implicit contrast with the less-than-ideal actualities beyond the gallery’s precincts. Steve DeGroodt’s As It Should Be (2013) sums up that notion (in cloth and rattan) concretely. And I would be remiss to reference the ‘ethereal’ without drawing attention to Jae Hwa Yoo’s genius canvas here. The show is elegantly installed; and over the course of an oppressive summer (okay, the rest of one’s life), it might be worth taking a moment’s respite from the raging tumult outside for the ‘quiet storm’ whispering through this gallery’s beautifully proportioned spaces. 

    DENK Gallery
    749 E. Temple Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90012
    Show runs thru August 19, 2017

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