The Brand Library and Art Center
By Amy Kaeser
Through July 1st
Set against the green hills of Glendale, CA, The Brand Library and Art Center hosts the current exhibition Natural Selections. Five women artists; Amabelle Aquiluz, Sarajo Frieden, Wakana Kimura, Karin Lanzoni, and Hiroko Yoshimoto explore multiple variations on the theme of nature, natural elements, and innovative approaches to the materials used in each work. Through various media—paint, fiber, collage, sculpture, and installation—the work articulates the connection between nature and artistic representation. The exhibition, now on view through July 1st, highlights the technical and formal elements of each artist as well as the works ability to engage the audience by presenting nature as a site for personal reflection and intervention.
Questions of sustainability circulate through the work of fiber artist Amabelle Aquiluz’s three contributions to Natural Selection, Changes (2017), Changes II (2017), and Rainbow Falls (2017). Up-cycling discarded fabrics and textiles as her medium, Aquiluz weaves the discarded strands into cascading tendrils that span from the ceiling to the floor. Out of the five artists featured, Aquiluz’s works are most successful in that they present a challenge to the viewer in the form of unconventional materials and theorize our position to the environment as one of connection, not separation. The stand out piece from the show is Aquiluz’s Rainbow Falls (2017). Set in an alcove room of its own, the site-specific installation of a central sculpture of rainbow colored fabric creating a waterfall-like image of falling materials pooling on the floor of the gallery, incorporates Aquiluz’s focus on repurposed textiles and artistic collaboration. The sculptural element of Rainbow Falls is a collaborative effort for the multidisciplinary performance work Water Stories (2016), a sound, textile, and movement project by Aquiluz, Luis Lopez, and Stephanie Zaletel’s SZalt Dance Company.
Our relationship to the environment and the subsequent destruction by human hands is at the core of Hiroko Yoshimoto’s Biodiversity series. Biodiversity #94 (2017) and Biodiversity #97 are a wash of bold and bright colors and abstract forms swirling across the canvases invoke images of organic life under a microscope. Both works stand out against the black color of the gallery wall, evoking life in its simplest forms. As a literal rendering of the exhibition theme, Yoshimoto’s paintings show in abstract detail the process of natural selection, where organisms better adapt to the environment survive and create thriving biospheres, relying on the cooperation of all living things working together to sustain life. The threat to this process and the diversity in nature, as suggested in the title of Yoshimoto’s series, is that the current longevity of the planet and the sustainability of the environment diminish year after year as consumer demands increase the destruction of the planet’s natural resources.
Wakana Kimura’s large-scale works on washi paper combine the delicate nuances of Zen Buddhist painting with the gestural brush strokes of Abstract Expressionism. Nature’s appearances in Kimura’s monumental pieces are the most figural of all the works on display in Natural Selections. Lotus flowers, Buddha’s, animals, and symbols indicate a complex iconographic relationship between Kimura’s abstract “markings” and the Japanese motifs. Karin Lanzoni’s work, comprised of multiple small to medium sized pieces of oil paint generously applied to wooden panels, explores our everyday gestures through the application of paint on a surface. The impasto technique produces a textural element to her work inviting the viewer to carefully inspect the dips and valleys, offering a micro view of what could be a piece of a larger surface. Sarajo Frieden’s cut-paper on paper collages incorporate multiple visual elements to engage the audience. Color, shape, line, and form create two-dimensional, sculptural pieces that are experimental in nature yet connect to historical modes of rethinking representation; mining art history, found images, and text, Frieden invites various outcomes and ambiguity within her work.
The Brand Library and Art Center’s exhibition Natural Selection is on view May 13th – July 1st, 2017. Hours: Monday – Thursday 10AM – 8PM; Friday – Sunday 10AM – 5PM.
Amabelle Aquiluz lives and works in Los Angeles. Her work has been exhibited nationally, and in Canada; Sarajo Frieden graduated from the University of Southern California Los Angeles with a degree in Painting and Printmaking and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. She is a recipient of the Sam & Adele Golden Foundation Residency in New Berlin, NY fellow; Wakana Kimura moved to the United States in 2007 after gaining her BFA at the Tokyo University of the Arts. She recently had a solo show at both the Pomona College Museum of Art and LA Art Core; Karin Lanzoni lives and works in Los Angeles as an artist, curator, and writer. She has received several awards for her painting and sculpture, including the Nancy Graves Foundation Grant; and Hiroko Yoshimoto holds a BA and MA from UCLA moving to the United States from Japan as a teen. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally as well as curated numerous exhibitions in and around the LA area.