his is the third article of a Four Part series about the 2023 Los Angeles Art Week by Brooke Harker
CLICK HERE for article # 1 (An Artist’s Perspective);
CLICK HERE for article # 2 (Felix Art Fair);
CLICK HERE for article # 4 (LA Art Show);
The next chapter of my art treasure hunt took me to the VIP preview of the prestigious Frieze Los Angeles on Thursday which was divided into two sections of the Santa Monica Barker Airport Hangar. A more classic display of white walled booths formed the hip vibe of this sought after event.
Within minutes, I found myself standing beneath the over seven foot tall powerful “Portrait of Lucemy Pereze” (96” x 64” – oil on canvas) by Kehinde Wiley on exhibit with Roberts Projects in Los Angeles. The intricacy of lines woven in a surreal background, predominately featuring patterns of orange in combination with the hyper-realistic figure, a signature of Wiley’s style in the world of portrait painting. For anyone unfamiliar with his iconic paintings, Wiley is the artist who’d been selected to paint the official portrait of former president Obama.
I was delighted to learn from another enthusiastic art viewer that Wiley also has a solo exhibit of his massive portraits at the Roberts Projects in Los Angeles until April 21, 2023.
One of my favorite booths at Frieze was a display of abstract works by Los Angeles artist Edgar Ramirez with Chris Sharp Gallery out of LA. His multi-layered paintings, inspired by shipping containers in a more industrialized area of LA, utilizes signage from his neighborhood that he believes preys on people in a lower income areas. Through his art he repurposes these items that in some ways have contributed to holding people in a more limited version of living.
I highly recommend watching the video about Ramirez’s work available through his gallery’s website. It also contains a cute cat in his studio, which wins some extra points for relatability. Ramirez’s art clearly comes from a place of heart and concern for the treatment of others. There is much to be discovered in the way he has torn, sanded, scraped and reinvented his surroundings within his art.
Another display that both magnetized me with the colors, scale and expression in the strokes was that of the New York based painter, Doron Langberg on exhibit with Victoria Miro Gallery out of London and Venice, Italy. His vibrant colors pulled me in like a tractor beam, and then I got a bit shell shocked when I saw what the bold colors depicted. Without a doubt his use of color spoke loudly regardless of whether he was painting flowers or more intimate close ups. I particularly appreciated his stunning work, “Hibiscus 2” (96” x 80”- oil on linen).
I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the large- scale oil painting of Kermit the Frog riding a bicycle in the “Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me” (approx. 55” x 80” – oil on linen) by Keith Mayerson with Karma Art Gallery in out of New York and Los Angeles. A wave of nostalgia rushed over me and slowed me down to examine the art closer. I witnessed other art patrons also stop to smile at this portrayal of Kermit. In an instant, I wondered how many memories that painting ignited in each art viewer.
As I write this my heart smiles as I remember the homemade Kermit costume my mom made for my brother in elementary school. To this day, I keep a cartoon glass of Kermit riding a bicycle in my cupboard, because sometimes it takes the sight of a frog riding a bicycle to remember that the simpler times can also be right now. I send a high five to Mayerson for bringing a youthful playful spirit to the world of art that often prizes a more mature, tortured subject matter. Mayerson’s painting of Kermit, vibrant in light, brings to the present a joy that many have forgotten in their pasts. I thank this artist for helping people remember, if only for a moment, the world can always use more smiles.
The abstract painting “se poser sur l’eau” (67” x 100”- oil & acrylic on canvas) by Alexandre Lenoir caught my attention with Almine Rech out of Paris, Brussels, London, New York & Shanghai.
After Frieze, I took a break on my art treasure hunt for Friday and attended both Spring/Break Art Fair and the LA Art Show on Saturday.
The whimsical appearance of the Spring/Break Art Fair set up reminded me a bit of summer camp vibe. Colorful booths, each created by the artists and different in appearance became part of the art of the event.
The work of Los Angeles based artist, Max Rippon curated in a booth by Anne-Laure Lemaitre offered a stark contrast to the free-spirited DYI vibe of the rest of the fair. Instead, his oil paintings and drawings portrayed various news articles painted with such a level of detail that initially I walked past his booth thinking it was a media stand. I only discovered his art because I returned to find my friend in conversation with him. Rippon shared that he sometimes sorts through eight thousand screenshots of news articles to make a selection for a painting. This is a familiar behavior as I often sort through that many reference photos to select one composition to paint.