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  summer surf:
report from los angeles

by Deborah Irmas  
 


Takashi Murakami
My Lonesome Cowboy
1998
at Blum and Poe



Takashi Murakami
Backbeat
1998
installation view at Blum and Poe



Hiroshi Sugito
The Dinner (Table)
1997



Tim Rogeberg
Tropopause (An Emperical Approximation)
1997-98
at Brent Petersen



Kim McCarty
Helen
1994
at Works on Paper
Hey Art dudes, the big swells are in Los Angeles this summer! There's some medium size curl on our beaches --- nothing like the monster waves that hit this city this past winter with the opening of the $1-billion-dollar Getty Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art's mega-exhibition on performance art, "Out of Action" -- but plenty of well-shaped movement nonetheless.

The Japanese tsunami that hit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in March with the work of Yayoi Kusama and is now sweeping New York at the Museum of Modern Art has left a new generation of Japanese artists in its wake. The city is still in its Pacific Rim mode. LACMA is showing 3-D video and digital-video stills on glass by the ultra-hip super-tech love goddess Mariko Mori. Blum and Poe's eye-popping neo-Pop installation by Takashi Murakami makes you want to paddle out to the breakers. He's the one whose oversized sculptures of cartoon characters have mega-body-parts squirting love juices in the shape of flying lassos! Remember?

And don't forget your New Age kamikaze comic books. They are primary resource material for these artists! Marc Foxx is planning to bring back a more sober tradition this fall with his second one-person exhibition of Hiroshi Sugito (no, not the seascape photographer). This neo-Nihonga painter -- Nihonga is a traditional school in which many washes and drawings are overlaid -- has just won the VOCA Award in Japan (which is the Turner Prize of Asia).

Also at the recently relocated cluster of galleries on Wilshire Boulevard (away from the beach where they used to hang, but hey . . .) is an installation by Tim Rogeberg at Brent Petersen Gallery. The announcement recommends that you wear your swimsuit. At least don't forget your flip-flops because the floor of the gallery has been transformed into a extra-celestial tide-pool dotted with giant, dripping salt orbs.

Kristine Nichols of Works on Paper employed less plumbing to bring the beach into her gallery. She is showing the sensitive portrait drawings of Malibu-based artist Kim McCarty. As for Dan "Big Daddy" Bernier, he's all excited about baby Bernier, due this January, and an upcoming exhibition of vintage street photographs from the '70s by Anthony Hernandez. Hernandez just won the Prix de Rome and will spend the upcoming year in Italy. Bravo Tony!

At the Orange County Museum of Art and the Town Center Park at chic South Coast Plaza are 15 sculptures by Mark di Suvero. It seems the South Coast was sideswiped with a swirling eddy from New York that was on its way to Seoul and crashed on the big Orange instead. When the wave-of-good-fortune-economy collapsed in Korea recently, this exhibition bound for the Asian capital decided not to get on the boat. Many of the same sculptures were seen in Paris last year but some new works appeared too.

Before I forget, "Amnesia," a two part exhibition at Track 16 and Christopher Grimes features painting and sculpture from South America. While Tunga and Ernesto Neto might be more well known than some of their other contemporaries, there are some intriguing works that are well thought out and beautifully executed. I especially enjoyed the elegant sculptures by Waltercio Caldas that merge the gestural and the linear. It's as if metal could be drawn in three dimensions as easily as pencil on paper. And the conceptual multi-media work by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, a piece on clear glacial water, had me fooled -- I tried to take a drink out of the empty water cooler!

For those of us who need sunblock (and who doesn't) there's Christopher Wool in black and white (and a bit of navy blue) at MOCA. It his first major survey in the U.S. All of his international dealers were in town to celebrate with him and curator Ann Goldstein, including Samia Saouma from Max Hetzler in Berlin, Gisela Capitain from Cologne, Lawrence Luring and Roland Augustine from New York and West Hollywood's own Michael Kohn of the Kohn Turner Gallery. My favorite painting is a word piece that says,

SELL TH
EHOUSE
SELLTHE
CARSELL
THEKIDS

The art world has been hungry in L.A. for a "canteen" that it can call its own. Well wipe that saliva off your face, boys and girls, because Lucques is coming at the end of August! No it's not the latest soap opera "hunque" or some surfer from Biarritz, it's the West Hollywood Provençal-inspired restaurant of Caroline Styne and chef Suzanne Goin. They're the wife and girlfriend of dealers Michael Kohn and Brian Butler. Rumor has it that the boys are duking it out to see who gets to share the restaurant's curating duties.


Martin Kippenberger
Model of Transportation
Ventilation Shaft (Muenster)

1997



Martin Kippenberger
Metro-Net (Muenster)
1996
Speaking of art and restaurants, the late Martin Kippenberger was said to own a piece of an Italian restaurant in Venice (Ca.) This summer his presence out here is somewhat more powerful. The MAK Center in the Shindler House in West Hollywood is showing the last unbuilt subway piece of his Metro-net series.

As everyone must know by now, Kippenberger envisioned a vast global metro for which he fabricated aluminum entrance stairs and so forth. This piece is definitely the main course of any art meal in Los Angeles this summer. It's an amazing work of subtlety, originality, humor and monumentality. Contemporary sculpture rarely achieves that . . . I wish I had a picture for you -- I don't, but here's 20 seconds of sound! For those of you who don't like the beach, this extraordinary work will take you back to the big city and blow that sand off of your virtual bikini! Kowabunga!

See you on dry land!

DEBORAH IRMAS splits her time between Paris and Los Angeles.