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Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Doug Simay’s Best Picks
Holly Roberts at Craig Krull (Bergamot through Nov. 24).
I am an unabashed fan of Holly Roberts.  This body of work is different.  I own two of her earlier paintings
on which she paints over silver-gelatin photographs.  Of late she has applied photographs to the surface
of paintings.  The work continues to present personal interpretations of universal experiences.
Holly Roberts, 1989 Collection of Doug Simay
Tanja Rector at Craig Krull (Bergamot through Nov. 24).
For several years I have responded to Tanja Rector’s art.  I see it in the hallways of the Santa Monica Art
Studios and Arena 1 at the Santa Monica Airport.  She has a small offering of works in Craig’s office.  
Quoting from the press release: “Rector's sewn fabric assemblages combine folk elements of Gee's Bend
quilts, earth tones of Southwest landscapes, and Modernist sensibilities of Anni Albers and the Bauhaus.”  
Yup, truly wonderful, seasoned, professional work.
Christopher Murphy at Lora Schlesinger (Bergamot through Dec. 15).
I have written of Christopher Murphy’s prior exhibitions (usually paintings) in this gallery.  His realism is
exacting but the viewpoint is usually off-center, filled with enigma.  This exhibition features graphite on
paper drawings.  “Drawings” seems too diminutive a word for the power and scope of these works.  I know
that a great drawing is equal to a great painting.  Here, in part, lies the evidence.
John Tottenham at Lora Schlesinger (Bergamot through Dec. 15).
Known mostly as a writer and performer, Tottenham’s paintings/drawings are very engaging.  His images
are vernacular American scenes fronted by funny, dark text.  Magical Cynicism.  The spaces between
words in his text cause the paintings/drawings to “read/sound” like spoken performance (a script).  His text
is dark and angst filled to the extreme of being humorous:  “Maybe I Can Be a Posthumous Failure Too”,  
“A Pitiful Bid for Validation”, “I Have Failed At Last Beyond my Wildest Expectations”.
Dan Colen at Gagosian (Beverly Hills through Dec. 15).
Over the years Dan Colen has artistically operated in many different styles.  The reasoning behind these
paintings is a bit effete.  But the results are dramatic.  A 90 x 119 inch canvas has an undeniable presence
becoming cinematic.  The oil paint is applied sparingly – producing a luscious waxy, matte surface.  The
visual “bang” from viewing this work lasts long after leaving the gallery.
Travis Louie at KP Projects (La Brea through Nov. 24).
The characters in Travis Louie’s “world” are mythical creatures with Edwardian attributes.  His formidable
artistic skill brings his menagerie to life.  He is able to capture ethos tangentially through fantastical
“monsters”.
Ivan Morley at David Kordansky (lower La Brea through Dec. 15).
If Ivan Morley’s work was abstract painting – they would be rather pedestrian.  But his work is hand
wrought embroidery.  The texture that varying threads brings to the surface is rich and evocative.  His
abstraction becomes very activated.
Ricky Swallow at David Kordansky (lower La Brea through Dec. 15).
Compared with Ivan Morley, Swallows sculpture is masculine and direct.  It too takes its power from
representing familiar sculptural motifs in a unusual material – painted cast bronze.  Pairing Morley with
Swallow is inspired.
Ricky Swallow
Bernhard Buhmann at Nino Mier (Hollywood closing).
This 39 year old artist lives and works in Vienna. His painting expertise speaks to the fine Austrian training
he has received.  The works here are vibrant (like we see in the western US); but the carefully rendered
abstraction with elements of figuration is assiduously European. I see homage to Richard Lindner (1901-
1978) (German-American) in Buhmann’s paintings.
Madeleine Pfull at Nino Mier (Hollywood closing).
This young Sydney-based Australian is relatively unknown.  That will change soon enough.  She serves as
her own model – dressing up and acting out behaviors of her mother.  She paints about confidence and
pride – exploring identity from a domestic viewpoint.
George Rouy at Steve Turner (Hollywood through Dec. 6).
Rouy’s canvasses are large and visually bursting, constraining contorted other-worldly figures. The
gallery’s press release suggests they seemingly borrow from Rothko, Milton Avery, and the canvas filling
composition of Georgia O’Keeffe. Rouy is British and the quality of his English training is evident.  I found
myself transfixed before them – studying the work much longer than usual.
Tavares Strachan at Regen Projects (Hollywood through Dec. 22).
Tavares Strachan has produced his own “encyclopedia” of what he calls invisibility.  The lost details of
humanity; the unpublished histories of anonymous people are graphically presented in this wide-ranging
exhibition.  Strachan’s work is remarkable for the depth of his research.  He has taken several avenues to
present these facts.  I don’t quite get why he includes the magnificent hanging, neon, vascular body in the
context of the rest of the exhibition.  But, it is fantastic.
Tavares Strachan
Olafur Eliasson at Tanya Bonakdar (Hollywood through Dec. 22).
Rarely have I enjoyed Eliasson’s work at intimate scale.  Usually his spatial manipulations have been
installed in “institutional” grandeur.  This exhibition with its gallery-sized works is one of those rare
opportunities.  The glass spheres are all identical.  Depending on where one stands, they are either fully
transparent or fully dark and every state in between (sort of like the phases of the moon).
The glass, hanging light sculptures are an evolving complexity of polyhedrons fashioned from black,
gilded, and glacial glass (glass made from the glacially ground sand from Iceland (he was born in Iceland
and is considered Icelandic-Danish)).  
He artfully manipulates perception.
Olafur Eliasson
Rosa Loy at Kohn Gallery (Hollywood through January).
Foreign artists and figuration currently dominate the gallery firmament of Hollywood.  Rosa Loy evinces
the Social-Realism that is core to current East German painting.  She is one of the few female members
of the New Leipzig School.  Her husband is Neo Rauch.  Her work focusses on women and their roles –
placing them in fantastical landscapes.  The work is refreshingly honest.
Rosa Loy
Lauren Bon at VSF (Various Small Fires) (Hollywood through Dec.15).
Lauren Bon is an “ecological artist”.  In the back court of the gallery she has created a small version of a
wetland cleansing bio-array.  The gallery is in the back of the street-side building – accessed by a
corridor. Ms. Bon et al have installed a series of speakers to broadcast the sounds of wild nature as one
travels down the corridor. ‘Tis a trippy, emotionally warm invitation to wander down the “lane.”
“One Day at a Time.  Manny Farber and Termite Art” at MOCA (Bunker Hill through March 11, 2019).
By my count, this is Manny Farber’s (1917-2008) fifth museum retrospective.  It is the best.  Helen
Molesworth, curator, demonstrates Manny’s life as being inseparable from his painting.  Manny is famously
credited with the term “termite art”.  Helen Molesworth here informs us what “termite art” means.  She does
it by presenting other contemporary artist
s who are finding their own path, termite-like.  Manny Farber’s
painting was indeed idiosyncratic – about composition using figures versus pure abstraction.  He was
other-than-his-time in analyzing film and in painting.  Mr. Termite.
Manny Farber, "Kits", 1975 (on left) Collection of Doug Simay
Alexander Calder at Hauser and Wirth (DTLA through Jan. 6).
In the main, south gallery intimate, black Calder stabiles and mobiles are wonderfully installed in a space
designed by Stephanie Goto (it is a terrific installation that allows each piece to be experienced
independently from its brethren).  In the central court, large stabiles and mobiles are magnificent.
Nigel Cox at Corey Helford (DTLA through Nov. 24).
London-based Cox is a consummately skilled painter.  The press release weaves a story about meaning
and content.  Cox fits in well with this gallery’s program.  It is all about the painting.  Narratives about
meaning and form attached to the artists this gallery favors strike me as hollow.  I don’t exactly know why
Christopher Murphy’s realism engages my mind in addition to my eye.  I do know that Nigel Cox’s work only
engages my eye.
Blue McRight at Roberts Projects (Culver City through Dec. 15).
Blue McRight is one of fourteen women sculptors in this exhibition curated by Jill Moniz.  Of the group,
McRight is who I paid attention to.  Familiar with her work for the last years – this body of work surprised
me for its “femininity”. I am used to McRight’s fantastic amalgamations of hardware.  The works seen here
are soft and malleable and fashioned with a woman’s hand and intention.  There is artistic kinship with San
Diego’s Ann Mudge.
Matt Wedel at LA Louver (Venice through Jan. 5).
Matt Wedel is a ceramic artist who wants to also do painterly abstraction.  He says: “Everything is
painting…(and) everything is an act of sculpting.”
His work is audacious.
Matt Wedel
John Sonsini at Long Beach Museum of Art (Long Beach through Jan. 6).
John Sonsini has been painting the human figure for over 30 years.  Since 2000 he has painted Latino
day laborers who he hires, pays, and feeds to sit as his models.  I have known John for some decades
and been in his studio many times.  John loves painting the figure.  He loves it for the play of oil and
brush on canvas.  He loves it for the ever-changing humanity evident in each of his sitters.  He loves the
riot of his model’s choices of clothing.  Over-arching all is John’s love of painting
Get out, look at art; have fun.
Doug Simay       November 2018

doug@simayspace.com
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