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Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
2685 S La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034 | T 310 838 6000


January 24, 2011


Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is very pleased to announce our participation in ART LOS ANGELES CONTEMPORARY, the International Fair of Contemporary Art, taking place at the Barker Hanger (Santa Monica Airport) in Santa Monica, California, from January 27-30, 2011.

The Gallery will present Federico Solmi's monumental video installation 'Douche Bag City' (edition 1 of 5), comprised of 15 individual video animations with sound and custom designed frames.   more

This particular edition was produced and exhibited at 'The Dissolve' - SITE Santa Fe 2010 Biennial. It is the last available edition. Federico Solmi will be present at the booth during the fair.

In addition, the Gallery will present a suite of eight new 'scratched' and silver spray-painted photographs titled 'Framing Exercises' by L.A. artist Christopher Russell. Each photograph is a unique, one-of-a-kind work whose ornate scroll designs Russell has 'etched' by hand, and are inspired by the border illustrations created by William Morris for a 19th century edition of the Canterbury Tales. A similar pair was featured in his sold-out solo presentation at NADA in Miami this past December.

We will also present new abstract paintings by Heather Gwen Martin (her recent solo show at the Gallery was selected as one of the 'Top Ten' exhibitions in Southern California in 2010), and a new limited edition ceramic and neon sculpture by David Adey, whose work is currently on view in the 2010 California Biennial.

We look forward to seeing you at the Fair.

For further information or images, please contact the Gallery at +1-310-453-7773, or email

January 13, 2011


The shooting in Tucson, Arizona last weekend produced some valuable teachable moments over the course of the week. It was tempting to attribute the act to an atmosphere of political extremism that has produced a number of near and smaller tragedies, but the more substantial cause in this case was mental illness (itself an important public issue). Sarah Palin's self-consciously crafted statement revealed how the real person can be glimpsed even in the most controlled public performance.   more

In her case it was a shocking, but not surprising display of empty bromides, intense hostility and narcissism. Then the president demonstrated the right way to produce a larger message to the nation even as he eulogized the victims as individuals. Their personal stories became the components of a narrative that integrated a larger mythos of family, community, heroism and that sense of possibility that energizes us to move forward. Hope, even in the face of great grief or hardship. There is an important point to this, and I find a path to it through my own experience of art.

When I look over the exhibitions our editors and writers are excited by week in and week out I experience each artist's work for its own particular merits. For example, this week we cover Laura Mackin's series of videos, "Time Enough," based on over a half century of home movies by a man named Dean. The artist successfully recasts endlessly quotidian banality into an aesthetic statement that emerges out of processes of categorization and compilation. Regarding Margie Livingston's objects constructed from acrylic paint, Jeannie R. Lee says that they "started with a hairball." The challenge of depicting the light filtering through so ordinary an object launched the artist into a journey in which one thing lead to another until, over time, the work comprising her current exhibition came into being, with no obvious relationship to that original source. Just as these two artists generated a body of work from the most seemingly unpromising starting point, so do the videos of Mackin and sculptures by Livingston display an intriguing connection between the rapid fire but related fragments in the videos and the rolled or folded sheets of paint. That connection readily expands to include some aspects of the other art our writers engage so as to create a common, one might say a civic space. Significantly, this is inevitably a large and open-ended space, one might say a free space.

Long experience has taught me that given that such a meritorious gathering is made up of arbitrary parts, there are larger lessons, coincidentally shared as well as contradictory issues, a meta-narrative that implies a new if imperfect whole.

What the president did with the random biographies of the shooting victims, who themselves have entered into the national mythos at random, was illuminate that inevitable connective tissue. I think we all gathered that his was a metaphor of national reconciliation, a call for civility. That this is the über-theme of the Obama presidency is not a point that need be elaborated on or critiqued here. What struck me is that without realizing it my private knowledge has been that the nature of art draws even the most diverse creative people into shared orbits all the time. Not in spite of but by virtue of the very pursuit of distinction there arises common purpose. The patchwork is rough, but so is that of America itself.

The tragedy of Tucson provided the unexpected occasion for collective self-examination. The president's narrative has clarified the process. If it is important that Americans challenge each others' ideas without, as he suggested, doubting adversaries' love of country, it is essential that we honestly criticize the creative production and strategies of artists while never forgetting to honor the largesse of the aesthetic enterprise.

(This article was written by Bill Lasarow, publisher, ArtScene, and appeared on February 13, 2011) [ VISIT SITE ]

January 09, 2011


Charles Stainback, curator of photography at the Norton Museum of Art, told the opening night crowd for Now WHAT? that he’d wondered what the museum’s new director, Hope Alswang, would make of the “wacky” proposal he and curator of contemporary art Cheryl Brutvan had dreamed up: The two would mosey on down to Art Basel 2010 and, over the course of several days, put together a show of some of the best new work they found there.   more

The result is a testament to the two curators’ fine eyes and impeccable taste, and to Alswang’s faith in them.

The Norton describes the show’s theme as “information exchange,” which works well, and is timely. I came to see the show through another, perhaps equally wide lens: Obsession.

Tenacity and intelligence undergird the show’s works, each piece seeming to emerge from the scratching of an aesthetic itch rather than the pursuit of a pre-determined image. The formal qualities of the pieces are varied, but they are united by an intense, and labor-intensive, working through of what if’s. There is spontaneity here, but it resides in the small gestures and choices of individual elements of the work“enough to bring warmth and humanity. But by and large, it is termite-like persistence that energizes the show.

Established names like Roxy Paine and Liza Lou are present. Paine’s “Pigeon Holes” is an exercise in taxonomy, conflating science and satire in a large-scale construction of thick skids of polymer catalogued“with one, wry insect“in a mahogany grid under plexiglass. Lou evokes Islamic art with “Offensive/Defensive,” a brilliantly colored, richly detailed patterning of glass beads on aluminum, the unsettling outline of some vaguely human figure drifting across its surface, a ghost of disorder.

Appropriately, however, for a show about “now,” the bulk of the work comes from younger and emerging artists, and much of their art radiates the delighted, excited purity of youthful self-discovery. It is work that lingers in the mind’s eye.

Strangely, and despite myself, I was greatly struck by two acrylics on canvas by Luke Butler, an under-forty, New York-born West Coast artist, both centered on images of actor William Shatner as Star Trek’s Captain Kirk. On backgrounds void of figures or any indication of depth, in washed-out pastels reminiscent of Luc Tuymans’ paintings on world historical topics, these Kirks lie eyes shut and face up, or in tantrums belly-down, as if in stills from scenes of great dramatic import. It could simply be funny, but there is a perplexing pathos in Butler’s fascinated play on the cult-like devotion inspired by this most wooden of actors, a tender concern for so failed a hero.

There is an even more hermetic air to the work of Christopher Russell, another, even younger, West Coast artist. His hand-illustrated, 30-page book “Runaway” and its accompanying wall of 18 mixed-media works on glass, “Runaway: Ghost-Ship-Wreck,” are a fractured narrative of some 19th century maritime disaster. The images, etched into the white-on-black cast of photo negatives, are haunting in every sense, a glimpse into the nightmares lonely children fall prey to in the absence of the light.

Other of the show’s works reflect more tightly focussed techniques, though, like a drill through a tunnel, their singularities issue forth into blossoms of effect.

Kim Rugg’s “The Story is One Sign” and Richard Galpin’s “Splinter XVII” have similar strategies, a calculus of subtraction applied to a single, original image. Allyson Strafella’s “foundation” and “inverted red catenary” invert their approach, though her accumulative method also involves disintegration.

Rugg’s piece takes one page from an issue of the New York Times and reproduces thirty copies of it, every appearance of all but one letter or character blotted out on each page. The instances of the exempted letter or character call out to the viewer like secret constellations or the Morse code of a lost nation.

Galpin’s piece originates in a large-scale photograph of a cityscape, from which he painstakingly peels away strips of emulsion, reducing and altering the visual field to a grid of abstract forms, Constructivist in its geometry, Futurist in its dynamism.

Strafella’s medium is ink and paper, her tool the typewriter, her technique to strike (obsessively) a single key as transfer paper moves through the machine until, through the accumulation of ink and the wear of the paper, forms emerge which are then transferred from the carbon to plain paper. The resulting images have the elegance of miniature rock gardens, the austere saturation of late Rothko.

There is more, and among other standout pieces: Brian Drury’s “Ali” is a portrait in oil on wood, the subject’s intensely thoughtful face against a high-gloss red, exactingly detailed in a gripping, almost photorealist way. Seattle artist Isaac Layman’s “Blackout” transforms a large-scale photograph of a window shrouded in a blackout sheet into a hyperrealist meditation on framing. Mickalene Thomas’s “You’re Gonna Give Me All the Love I Need” is a voluptuous, rhinestoned, African American odalisque, the culmination of a process that leads from tableau vivant to photograph to acrylic and enamel on wood.

At a moment when, as critic Peter Schjeldahl recently wrote, art seems to consist of “one damn thing after another” (and when visitors to Art Basel and its satellite fairs can feel drowned in a tsunami of commerce and ego), Now WHAT? offers a distillation of aesthetic clarity, seriousness of purpose and, not least, pure pleasure. If this is the “WHAT” that’s “now,” even the most jaded arts lover can take heart.

Norton Museum of Art
Through March 13, 2011 [ VISIT SITE ]

January 07, 2011

Artscene preview: margie livingtson at Luis De Jesus Los angeles

It started with a hairball. Margie Livingston wondered if she could draw the light filtering through that hairball ” and with this challenge, launched herself into an exploration of depicting 3D space in 2D space, but always by first constructing and then copying a model. In order to produce one of her early paintings, Livingston would build a model, often a grid-like structure of string and wood. Then the small object standing in her studio would provide inspiration for an atmospheric, tasteful oil study in space, form and light.  [ READ ON ]

January 06, 2011

christopher Knight Art review: California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art

NEWPORT BEACH -- Biennial. These days the word generates conflicting responses of anticipation and dread.

Anticipation because any sizable survey of recent contemporary art assembled by a museum curator with an eye (plus an ear to the ground) will include at least some unexpected surprises. Juxtaposed with sure-things -- artists who, for one reason or another, drew unusual recent notice -- the biennial mixture can be lively and enlightening. [ READ ON ]

January 04, 2011

Southern California's Top Ten Exhibition Picks for 2010

Presenting the third and final of our three Top Ten Exhibitions of 2010 lists, this one for Southern California. This follows publication of our picks for the Northwest and Southwest regions. For each exhibition we have republished the article about it as it originally appeared in the Visual Art Source Weekly Newsletter.  [ VISIT SITE ]

December 16, 2010


The year was filled with many good gallery shows while the museums seemed to be geared to pleasing crowds (Think MOCA’s Dennis Hopper: Double Standard and LACMA’s Renoir in the Twentieth Century) on the simplest level rather than aiming for interesting innovation. Below are my Top 10 shows of the year. I can’t bear to rank them, so they are in order according to impulse.  [VISIT SITE]

December 06, 2010

The 11 Most Original Artworks at NADA, Basel’s Most Original Art Fair... CHRISTOPHER RUSSELL featured in blackbook

Entering the Miami Convention Center during Art Basel is overwhelming, not only because of the number of artworks on display--although that alone is enough to make one’s head spin--but also because of the dollar signs attached to each piece. There must be billions of dollars worth of paint and pencil in the airplane-hangar“size venue.   more

Meanwhile, over at NADA (the New Art Dealers Alliance), nestled up Collins Avenue in the Deauville hotel (an art deco piece of art in its own right), younger gallerists and more experimental artists helped contribute to Basel’s most mind-blowing wonderland of sculpture, collage, drawing, video, and painting. Here is a sampling of this year’s standout artists.

[IMAGE] One of three prints from Christopher Russell’s Untitled Triptych, 2009.

In this work, Russell manipulated a found photograph, which he enlarged and then scratched into, creating the silhouette on a man who’s been hanged in the forest. It’s at once so pretty and disturbing that it called to mind Kara Walker’s black silhouettes of the antebellum South. Luis De Jesus in Los Angeles represents him.

By Nick Haramis [ VISIT SITE ]

November 23, 2010

Orange you glad I didn't say Biennial? Cali Bi at OCMA / David Adey, Andy Ralph, and Brian Dick in LAWEEKLY

Thursday, Nov 18, 2010 -- The California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art is a tradition dating back to 1984, when the venue was known as the Newport Harbor Art Museum and its chief curator was Paul Schimmel, now at L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art. The Orange County museum was renamed OCMA in the mid-'90s, and the venue's importance to the L.A. art scene has waxed and waned over the intervening decades, but the series of biennials in the new millennium ” unrivaled except for L.A.   more

Weekly's Annual Biennial ” have afforded it a new centrality, at least for a few months every couple of years.

The art boom of the last decade was reflected in the increasing ambitions of the Cali Bi, culminating in 2008's extravaganza, which featured more than 50 artists and multiple venues including outposts in Tijuana and Northern California, guest-curated by LAXART founder and director Lauri Firstenberg. Well, the boom's gone bust and Firstenberg is scheming with Annie Philbin at the Hammer Museum to steal OCMA's thunder with the Hammer's recently announced 2012 Los Angeles Biennial.

In the meantime, OCMA has scaled back its Biennial (I'm really starting to hate that word) to a more manageable 45 artists selected by in-house curator Sarah Bancroft. The show returns the focus to lesser-known up-and-comers, while retaining the expansive regionalism that allows for substantial contributions from Bay Area and San Diego art communities. As with any of these omnibus extravaganzas, the work on view is a hit-and-miss grab-bag, and the surprise quotient is crucial.

Thus the most impressive paintings in the show ” one-half of Alexandra Grant's expansive, seething six-part "Portal" series of her trademark backward word clusters on enormous sheets of paper ” lose considerable punch for having been exhibited at her L.A. gallery two years ago. In contrast, John Zurier ” a Berkeley-based midcareer monochromatic abstract painter ” materializes out of left field with a series of luminous pale-blue oils on linen that quietly steal the show. Violet Hopkins' sumptuous new Rorschach inkblots on black paper are just enough removed from both Bruce Conner's inkblot works and her own meticulously controlled illusionism to claim originality.

Some of the better-known locals surprise with uncharacteristic new work. Mari Eastman'sMoonscape With Fo-Dog (2010) is the first painting I've seen of hers that seems to emphasize her strengths as a painter, which curiously enough results in a near-monochromatic near-abstraction. Carlee Fernandez, whose modified taxidermy sculptures never seemed to own up to their Ilsa Koch connotations, has produced a substantial new performance/installation work that finally and literally addresses the biological equivalency of the artist and her subjects/materials.

Other standouts include Andy Ralph's mutant lawn chair and kinetic trash-can sculptures and David Adey's poignantly hilarious Pump (2007-2010, a sort-of St. Sebastian football on life support); both artists emerged from San Diego's Point Loma Nazarene University, whatever that signifies.

The central conceit of recent USC grad Alex Israel's installation is that it's assembled entirely from rented movie props, giving it an off-the-shelf regional specificity and clever appropriationist hook that ” in tandem with Israel's attempt to pass off his line of designer sunglasses as an art project ” would normally leave me cold. Instead, I found Property(2010) surprisingly engaging both on a formal visual level (particularly the central tableau of Osiris seated between two facing mirrors above a pedestal-mounted oceanscape quilt) and for the loose, collagey narrative that emerges from the not-quite-deliberate arrangement of not-quite-random artifacts.

The recent institutional enthusiasm for relational aesthetics, collectivism, political engagement, etc., is given the nod with the inclusion of L.A. Urban Rangers' democratizing Malibu Public Beaches (2007-2010) information kiosk, Brian Dick & Christen Sperry-Garcia's ravey DayGlo custom mascots (fabricated by the artisans at Piñata World in El Monte) and Glowfitti Room, and a cluster of works collected into a coherent curatorial aside in a small supplemental gallery: David (not of the Museum of Jurassic Technology) Wilson's walking and drawing guided tourism, Electronic Disturbance Theater/b.a.n.g. lab's mobile GPS phones hacked to locate water resources for thirsty border-crossers, Finishing School's inexplicably funny interactive-cinema exploration of Biennialism titled 54 (2010-2011), and Juan Capistrano's autobiography-laced DIY house-party kit.

Overall, though, the 2010 California Biennial has a something-for-everybody feel that kind of pisses me off. And diminishes its sense of currency ” a problem compounded by work that is overly familiar if not patently derivative: Andy Kolar's pointlessly handsome homages to Monique Prieto's mid-'90s revival of '60s color-field painting tropes; Lisa Williamson's (USC MFA '08) suspiciously Amanda Ross-Ho“esque (USC MFA '06) array of black-and-white diagrammatic reductivisms; Luke Butler's fetishized, isolated scenes ofCaptain Kirk in emotionally charged scenes from the original Star Trek.
If OCMA wants to maintain its lead in the coming biennial wars, it needs to get more cranky, opinionated and idiosyncratic before it mounts its next, delayed iteration in 2013.

November 23, 2010

"Reinventing Photography: Hybrid Photographic Forms" / Christopher Russell on The Huffington Post

As a photographer, I have to deal with a great heaving load of historical baggage about photography's validity as an art form, its place among other media, and its relevance in an increasingly digital era. However, instead of being quashed by the weight of ancient history or lost in new technology, some artists are embracing everything, incorporating traditional art forms into their photographic practice. These artists are creating hybrid photographic forms -- art that combines photography with other media in interesting ways.   more

For example, they are making photographs that are combined with or made out of drawing, photographs that are cut up or gouged into, or sculptures made out of photographs.

I suspect that these hybrid forms are the result of multiple historical factors: a response to digital photography, a result of the increasing popularity of multidisciplinary work, and a desire to reinvigorate the hand, to bring a physical engagement with media back to photography. It's not that these artists are doing something that has never been done before; photographic collage, for example has been around almost as long as photography has. But I think it's important that these artists are doing what they are doing in this particular moment in history. It feels like there is a renewed interest in manipulating photographs, defacing them, and using them as a media medium. It seems to me that these hybrid forms are navigating a path toward reinventing photography, forging a new future for an art form that, paradoxically, because of its relentless, endless evolution, constantly risks extinction. Hybrid photographic forms are one way to address the baggage of the past and the shifting technological ground of the present.

The following gallery, by no means exhaustive or complete, represents some of the artists who have inspired my own experiments with hybrid photographic forms. Christine Nguyen makes giant photomurals by drawing the negatives herself onto Mylar sheets, creating massive underwater worlds that are both photograph and drawing. Christopher Russell also combines drawing with photography, using a reductive process of scratching away at the surface of the photograph to create the drawing. Vlatka Horvat and Soo Kim both cut into and layer their photographs, creating works that are part photograph, part sculpture. Kristine Thompson also cuts up photographs, intimately interacting with the resulting figures. Cathy Akers works with photographic collage, and Matt Lipps creates three-dimensional photographic collages that are then re-photographed.

As a final note, I'm sincerely interested in artists who use photography in hybrid ways, combining multiple media, so if you have someone you think I should look at or include in a future gallery, please post your suggestions in the comments field below.

Posted: November 22, 2010 10:10 AM

Reinventing Photography: Hybrid Photographic Forms is part of a series of online galleries on contemporary art, curated by Carrie Yury.