Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Vintage Garabedian & How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I've been falling behind in my postings here, mainly because of my summer vacation in the Land of Viral Meningitis and Goutville - the latter precipitated by the use of large quantities of Pepto Bismol to stem the gastro-intestinal tide unleashed by the former, without reading the fine print. Which of course says "Don't use if you have the gout." So I haven't been getting out much, and a large part of my time at home was taken up with sleep. Not that I don't have plenty of old news to catch up on, but what typing energy I've been able to muster has had to go to final grading and a cluster of deadlines that could not wait - including a couple of pieces for the ambitious magazine ArtVoices which recently expanded from New Orleans to L.A.

The September issue will contain a feature on the Institute for Figuring and their recently opened permanent space in the same Chinatown digs where High Energy Constructs used to manifest, plus a review of Don Suggs current show (through June 30) at LA Louver. (Dig this weird unposed snapshot above of the research materials I was using while writing the pieces - Margaret Wertheim's Physics on the Fringe and the catalog for Don Suggs: One Man Group Show, lying adjacent. Now tell me there's no God! And He isn't a giant olive hovering in the desert!)

Speaking of ArtVoices, the issue containing my first contribution - a review of Charles Garabedian, also at LA Louver (I know, but its the only way I ever get to the beach!) - should be hitting the streets right about now. It's already online, and it goes something like this...

"For anyone who missed his stellar retrospective at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art last year, Charles Garabedian’s recent “Works from 1966–1976” at L.A. Louver offered a glimpse at the most pivotal moment in the evolution of perhaps the most underrated of contemporary West Coast painters. Garabedian (who will turn 90 next year) got a late start, graduating with a master’s degree in painting from UCLA close to the age of 40 before staking out a portion of the LA artscape alongside friends like Robert Irwin and Ed Moses.

His big break didn’t come for another decade, until Marcia Tucker included him in the 1975 Whitney Biennial and the landmark “Bad Paintings” show in 1978, when his deliberately awkward figuration was identified as a precursor to the then-burgeoning neo-expressionist movement. Yet, as with many of the artists associated with that art historical moment, his work has outlived the usefulness of such a pigeonhole through its longevity and sheer idiosyncrasy.

Some of Garabedian’s most idiosyncratic experiments come from the pre-recognition decade covered by this exhibit. Daytime T.V. (1966) inserts a large image of a television screen (featuring a scene of ambiguously erotic violence — under what appears to be a collaged ceramic tortilla/sun) into an urban landscape, marginalizing the actual cityscape into a decorative border. The low camera angle interior shot Restaurant (The Waitress) (1966) shares a similar pulp sensibility, as well as Daytime T.V.’s weird-ass medium: a grungy craft paint called “flo-paque” — the somewhat limited aesthetic possibilities of which Garabedian made a perversely extended exploration during this period..."

Read the rest of Charles Garabedian: Works from 1966 -1976 here.

Images: Miraculous synchronicity in book design documented by DH; Don Suggs Omphalos 2012, archival inkjet print on Crane Museo Max paper; Charles Garabedian Daytime T.V. 1966, flopaque and plaster on board; Henry Inn No. 3 1975 acrylic on canvas; Restaurant (The Waitress) 1966, flo-paque on board

No comments: