The 10 recent large photo-works by Larry Johnson on view in this show are at once entertaining and disturbing, as befitting one of Los Angeles's most acerbic conceptualists. The works, the largest of which measures 8 x 5 feet, are actually photo-enlargements of small, carefully painted panels. Many of the centralized compositions feature images of architectural or sculptural forms in bland colors. Some of the images are accompanied by obscure texts that seem to refer to some Hollywood insider jokes or gossip. One series features a schematic rendering of a tall sculpture that recalls work from David Smith's "Cubi" series. The components of Johnson's sculpture bear the letters HMR, and words "Hot Male Review." Other images depict restaurant facades and '50s space age signs on tall poles.
One of the most outrageous pieces in the show, Untitled (Literal Bolan) is a six-panel, tongue-in-cheek ode to the glam-rock icon and T. Rex band leader, who died in a 1977 car crash at age 34. Against gaudy, monochrome backgrounds, Johnson prints in plain, blocky type, the titles of some T. Rex songs, such as "Think Zinc" and "One Inch Rock." In this work and all of the others on view, Johnson expounds upon the way pop culture may be read and revised.
Larry Johnson at I-20 Gallery (May 16-Aug. 8), 529 W. 20th, 11th fl., New York, New York.