October 15, 2019

Theaster Gates, Kenny Scharf, Tala Madani, and More Must See Los Angeles

By Pearl Fontaine

In Los Angeles this month or next? Be sure to save time to visit these top exhibitions by artists like Theaster Gates, Kenny Scharf, and Tala Madani.

“Dark Fantasy”
UTA Artist Space
October 11—November 16
Opening this week at UTA Artist Space, is “Dark Fantasy”—a group exhibition presented in conjunction with Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Based around the concept of Archeofuturism (using forms of the past to shape the future’s design narratives), “Dark Fantasy” leads its viewer through a whimsical world of design, questioning the boundaries of reality and what it means to dream through a series of works that suggest former eras of production. Curated by Ashlee Harrison, the show features functional art by 24 artists, including Wendell CastleStudio DriftAtelier Van Lieshout, and Virgil Abloh.

Tala Madani: Shit Moms
David Kordansky
Now—October 19
Filling all three of David Kordansky’s exhibition spaces, Tala Madani’s “Shit Moms” features a series of paintings and animated works that narrate the contradictions and complexities of motherhood and contemporary life. The artist has taken a literal approach to the show’s title, depicting the mother figure as a brown, sludgy blob, often smudging the faces of cherubic children with her filth, whilst in a loving embrace. The figures in Madani’s paintings often reside in abandoned houses, disco halls, and dark shadowed rooms, sometimes hovering between materiality and immateriality, giving off the feeling that they have been pulled from the unconscious world. Of the video works featured are Mr. TimeThe Crowd, and The Womb, which depicts a growing fetus in-utero, along with animated projections of historic and biblical events.

Theaster Gates: Line Drawing for Shirt and Cloak
Regen Projects
Now—November 2
Theaster Gates’ second solo exhibition with the Regen Projects, “Line Drawing for Shirt and Cloak,” transforms the gallery with a series of metal structures that reflect on topics of desire, consumption, and surrender. As a self-proclaimed lover of material things, Gates used the exhibition as a form of release—from all the material accumulations that distract from his personal growth. The artist employed activations of a storefront to express intentions of emotion and aesthetics, creating line drawings from his metal works and transforming his entire wardrobe into smaller, symbolic works, that are seen presented as a large sculptural creation. The show is also accompanied by a vocal score, conceived and performed by the artist, which is composed of riffs on the biblical verses from which the show’s title was inspired.

Naudline Pierre: For I Am With You Until the End of Time
Shulamit Nazarian
Now—October 26
Naudline Pierre’s first solo show at Shulamit Nazarian features a series of paintings and works on paper ranging in scale from intimate to monumental. Informed by her religious upbringing, the Brooklyn-based artist has created a series of works focused around her alter ego, depicting the figure in a non-linear structure that allows her to exist in multiple places at once as she experiences moments of devotion, betrayal, rest, rebirth, and redemption. Using a striking palette of vibrant hues, the works on view often draw inspiration from art history and biblical narratives—like the Last Supper or Nativity—and, when viewed as a whole, create a story of undying love.

Kenny Scharf: Optimistically Melting!
Honor Fraser
Now—November 16
A presentation of new art by Kenny Scharf, “Optimistically Melting!” features the artist’s distinctive colorful, cartoonish style applied to works that allude to the current state of global anxiety surrounding climate change. Scharf explores the still life, seen in pieces like Flores Flores Flores, depicting a vase of seemingly happy flowers that show evidence of something more sinister lurking in the background. Scharf has also created a new group of ceramics bearing his signature characters, as well as a giant garland wrapping the façade of the gallery made using recycled material collected around the space.

Charles Gaines: Palm Trees and Other Works
Hauser & Wirth
Now—January 5, 2020
Hauser & Wirth has presented Charles Gaines’ landmark exhibition “Palm Trees and Other Works,” featuring the artist’s new “Gridworks” series, as well as works from his “Numbers” and “Trees” series. Visitors at the gallery can expect to find artworks like the monumental Plexiglas trees, which stand nine and 12 feet tall, as well as the largest compilation of the artist’s watercolors to date, and Manifestos 3, which includes transcribed texts from a Martin Luther King, Jr. speech and James Baldwin’s Princes and Powers. For the occasion of the exhibition, the artist held a 10-part lecture series on aesthetics and critical theory in art, which plays on loop throughout the show.