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Gabriel Orozco

5-8 Lower John Street
June 13–August 7

View of “Gabriel Orozco,” 2015.

Much of Gabriel Orozco’s recent work was made in Japan, where he took up residence earlier this year. In his latest outing, twenty-eight silk collages on traditional Japanese scrolls are displayed on the walls or in purpose-built boxes. Using a circular cutter, Orozco has excised and flipped perfect disks of the intricately woven kimono sashes known as obi to expose the reverse side of the weave. While as artifacts, Orozco’s Obi Scrolls (all works 2015) remain temporally and culturally bound, their geometrical deconstruction creates a broader pattern, a new existential field. In Roto Shaku, slender wooden poles decorated with an array of industrial tapes and straight-from-the-tube paint lean against the walls. Here again, Orozco’s work is cultivated within the parameters of a set time and place, in this case, the DIY section of a Tokyo department store. The slimness of the rods in relation to the space they occupy and the minimalism of their constituent parts create a surprisingly complex dialogue.

Orozco’s latest paintings, such as Fish Feathers 1 and Unfinished 2 are exactingly executed in jewel-tone tempura and burnished gold leaf, a palette that recalls religious iconography. These rich, tessellating images appear to have grown like microbial cultures on the invisible scaffolding of a circular grid. The resulting patterns seem infinite, with new sequences contracting into order and dissolving into chaos with every glance. The exhibition culminates in a series of photographs taken through the ever-present lens of the artist’s iPhone. Images such as Drain and Sunny Side Up capture manifestations of the circle in daily life, a structure that prevails despite variations of crude matter. Like his other works, these intimate snapshots convey existence in terms of an infinitely proliferating series of patterns: If you pay attention, you catch a glimpse of one before it gives way to the next.

Lucy Kent

Larry Johnson

56 Artillery Lane
June 11–August 9

Larry Johnson, Untitled (Achievement: SW Corner, Glendale + Silverlake BLVDS.), 2009, color photograph, 28 x 40".

Modulation of desire, in particular the desire Larry Johnson chronicles in and for Los Angeles, is the artist’s principal operation. Thus, it is pertinent that “On Location,”—Larry Johnson’s first major solo show in Europe, curated by Bruce Hainley along with Antony Hudek—starts with Untitled (Achievement: SW Corner, Glendale + Silverlake Blvds), 2009. The piece depicts an Emmy sitting on a windowsill from the point of view of the street, subtly emphasizing the tantalizing if actually impossible nature of the success the statuette embodies, placed at the nose of pedestrian experience.

Johnson’s signature technique of photographing his drawings and collages and then enlarging and manipulating each reproduction regulates their respective emotional output. Untitled (Land w/o Bread), 1999–2000, for instance, consists of four pictures, two depicting a drawing of a donkey and two of a goat, based on Luis Buńuel’s Land Without Bread (1933). Both animals are facing imminent death but are drawn as cheery cartoons, fusing European modernist cinema with the iconography of Disney. Doubling this dualism: One image of each pair is largely obscured by the artist’s finger in front of the lens, which draws attention to the physical equipment of the camera, resulting in a tension between the formal language and the violent, emotive content.

See also Untitled (Perino’s Front, Perino’s Rear), 1998, a diptych of photographed axonometric drawings showing the legendary Los Angeles restaurant from front and back. Though formally muted and concise, the sentiments it evokes—Hollywood glamour and the economics of the city (the rear drawing shows the worker’s entrance)—are notably dramatized. While Johnson’s method and visual language hews closely to that of Christopher Williams or Louise Lawler, his images are highly charged with pathos, placing him in a unique and fertile zone between melodrama and conceptual photography.

Yuki Higashino