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Patrick Jackson

Ghebaly Gallery
2245 E Washington Blvd.
June 11–July 30

Patrick Jackson, Curtain, 2016, Plasticine, polyurethane, epoxy, 34 x 26 1/2 x 7 1/2".

While the title of Patrick Jackson’s current solo exhibition, “Drawings and Reliefs,” offers a seemingly straightforward description of the series of works on paper and wall-mounted sculptures on view, it also alludes to the more sensual propositions at stake for the artist: Both drawings and reliefs are conceived as images that appeal not exclusively to vision but also to touch.

Depicting bodily forms in surreal combinations, seventeen notebook-size drawings comprise a prelude to, and source material for, the six flesh-toned sculptures occupying the second gallery. Composed with drippy watercolors, waxy oil paint, and pen, Jackson’s illustrations are sometimes narrative and sentimental—in Box, 2004, two forlorn figures are haunted by toothy monsters atop a steep pedestal, their fall seeming imminent—at other times, the works are menacing and confessional. In Mouth Behind Curtain, 2013, plump red lips with Chiclet-shaped teeth and braces float eerily behind deep-blue drapery. These folds reappear in supple relief in Curtain, 2016, where the fleshy, finger-thick ripples now surround an elongated neck—a form that becomes recognizable only when one walks away and looks back at the subtle shifts in the surface, where a nipple-like blip latently materializes as an Adam’s apple.

Jackson cast these works in Plasticine after modeling them first in WED—Walt E. Disney—clay, an especially soft medium first developed by the eponymous animator to create more lifelike animatronics. Just as in the sculptures, where imagery is informed intimately by the artist’s touch, in the drawing Hand on Chest, 2014, phalangeal impressions function indexically: an eerie red palm hovers above a headless torso covered in a pockmarked rash made from the artist’s thumbprints. Such physical and psychic motifs circle between drawings and reliefs; grids, folds, and cuts repeat and resurface in exaggerations that ultimately imagine our bodies as malleable and incommensurable images.

Olivian Cha

“Everybody! Come Stand on the Altar!”

1329 E. 3rd St.
June 24, 2016–July 24, 2016

View of “EVERYBODY! COME STAND ON THE ALTAR!,” 2016. From left: Deana Lawson, Altar, 2010; Anna Betbeze, Fugitive, 2016.

Theatrical lights shine and move throughout the room during Keaton Macon’s audio piece Overlay, 2016, which is interrupted by another work—this one made of darkness and five channels of a haunting voice, by Dorian Wood. The lights play over a collection of objects and writing, to make a performance, a stage, an altar, an art show. Running in a thirty-minute cycle, the lighting shifts off to give seven minutes of drama to Jesse Fleming’s The Snail and the Razor, 2012, a thrilling video of a snail very slowly crawling over the edge of a razor, sound tracked with a sensational drumbeat. K.r.m. Mooney’s Circadian Tackle IV, 2016, collects boiled-steel cable, a canine whistle, cast-silver orange peel and lavender, silver solder, and liver of sulfur, among other things, composing an alchemical offering under a spotlight on the hardwood floors. Stacked nearby, Litia Perta’s text piece Song for a Rite Parade, 2016, reads like the invocation of a ceremony.

Barb Smith’s elaborate collection installed on a large, low pedestal, comprising items such as a broken headstone and a chunk of glass from Kokomo, Indiana—exhaustively titled after all the objects it incorporates—makes for another set of strange offerings. Near it, Deana Lawson’s photograph of the real thing, Altar, 2010, shows it piled and draped surrounding a statuette of the Virgin Mary. This is the first exhibition for the new nonprofit center, and the accompanying essay written by its founders, Jules Gimbrone and Barnett Cohen, relays the ethos of the organization and this dynamic display: “Decentralized sacred space can emerge. There is a stage. There is no stage. The stage is always changing.”

Andrew Berardini

Carl Cheng

Cherry and Martin
2712 S. La Cienega Boulevard
May 28–July 30

Carl Cheng, Supply & Demand, 1972, Venus flytrap, insects, plastic case, humidifier, wiring, grass, wood, grow lamps, 47 x 24 x 19".

California native Carl Cheng is well known for his public art, but his studio practice has long been overlooked. This is where the current exhibition turns its focus, highlighting the artist’s pioneering research into natural phenomena, scientific knowledge, and social complexity.

The front room displays Cheng’s engineered sculptural photography, consisting of Plexiglas containers of vacuum-molded plastic sculptures with photographic transparencies arranged inside. Dating back to his postgraduate studies under Robert Heinecken at UCLA in the 1960s, these works stress the dimensionality of photographic images. The main room is dedicated to Cheng’s futuristic and sleekly crafted devices for exploring art in the expanded field of science and cosmology. In “Erosion Machine,” 1969, a series composed of four Plexiglas vessels with neon-yellow frames, lit by LEDs and black lights, water power washes rocks of compacted sediment, in an accelerated performance of the titular process. Across from it is Supply and Demand, 1972, an enclosed miniature entropic environment made up of Venus flytraps, flies, and a humidifier on a pedestal decorated with moss under grow lamps.

A decade before many artists began to express concern about an ecological crisis, Cheng was already producing works about unsustainable paradigms and environmental degradation. His Emergency Nature Supply Kit (E.N. Supply, No. 271-OJ), 1971, contains not only a short audio recording of chirping birds that can be played from a speaker, as well as video clips of a person carrying a case (which is also displayed in the gallery) through a subway tunnel in Japan’s Osaka region, but also a small patch of grass next to the speaker—relics of us for future survivors.

Danielle Shang