"Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now: Two Year Anniversary Exhibition," Apr. 26-May 25, 2002, at Low, 9052 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, Ca. 90069.
This recent exhibition of drawings, wryly titled "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now," could be taken as an eclectic nightmare, a kind of Los Angeles version of what would ordinarily be little more than a loose and disparate collection of engaging works by local artists, some established, some not. The gallery represents only a few of the artists featured in the show.
The exhibition commemorates the gallery's second year in business, and so the title is meant to be ironic. The work in the show ranges from the quiet reverie of Jeff Ono's Untitled, which happens to be an exquisite pencil drawing of a butt hole, to other works that are more overtly adolescent, if that can be imagined. This will towards the vulgar seems somehow to cheapen the power of the stronger things on view. The avant-garde theory of "the more screwing, the better the art" often just doesn't hold up.
Many of the works here are complicated and haunting, however, and engage on a visceral level, asking questions rather than assaulting with one perpetual erection after the next. Dave Hullfish Bailey's drawing Untiltled Study is elegant and stunningly rendered. The image could be a Russian propaganda piece, a tripod meticulously drawn, exploding into a kind of mushroom cloud of yellow and blue. Jeremy Blake comes in with one of his witty and seditious drawings from "The Forty Million Dollar Beatnik" series, which satirizes the life and times of a beatnik poet who is both in the know and out of it.
Roger Herman's Dancers is simultaneously poignant and erotic. Two faceless dancers stand poised on the edge of a next step toward each other, yet the couple seem strangely frozen. Herman's piece is mysterious and enigmatic, and continues to open out.
Andy Ouchi's From The Series "Tenting," also exemplifies mystery and a curious weightlessness. Ouchi has taken a photograph of the forest floor. In front of the image floats a painted orange helix as though fallen there by mistake. David Shrigley's untitled drawing (turtle) is playful and witty, and showcases a blue and pink turtle amidst hundreds of his own footprints.
Chris Johansen's Untitled (Hooded Figure) is vaguely threatening, and shows a Bergmanesque figure a la The Seventh Seal, extending his upturned palms. From the right hand, a cloud shoots out as though from some electrical impulse or the work of God. From the left, comes a burst of fire. The work poses a strange conundrum between the darkness and the light, and as such makes a lasting impact.