By Lorraine Heitzman
Through September 10th
A cynic might say that galleries with cavernous exhibition spaces are compelled to fill their walls with over-sized works and that the quality of the art often does not justify their square footage. Sometimes these large artworks seem intended to pay the rent or fill ever-larger museum spaces. But there are those artists whose large work is necessitated by their vision and the dimensions of their artworks are justified. Such is the case with most of the work on display in Supercaliforniagilisticexpialibodcious, an exhibit that features a range of large paintings.
Human Resources has stacked their ample wall space with energetic, large canvases from thirteen artists, invigorating the gallery with a joyful abandon. While many of the paintings suffer from the salon style arrangement, (particularly those hanging high on the walls) the overall installation works surprisingly well. Although it may seem counterintuitive, the diverse paintings complement each other, each one adding to the exhibit’s frenzied, but positive, overload. In some sense, however, the installation is the story here. Individually, each painting lacks sufficient space to breathe from such close proximity to other paintings, but as a unified field it is very effective. Ironically, when all the paintings in a show are large, their size becomes less important but the paintings on view have other common denominators that contribute to the show’s cohesive look. On the whole, they lean towards the narrative and most of the artists use a hypercharged, saturated palette. With a whimsical bravado suggested by the show’s title, the curators have created something larger than the sum of its parts.
The artists in Supercaliforniagilisticexpialibodcious all have ties to southern California, with most of them currently living and working in Los Angeles. The topic of place is a recurrent theme and therefore many of these paintings directly reflect the city. Sarita Dougherty’s painting, Know the Villages That Are Already Here, engages with a complexity of texture, shapes and colors, depicting the jumbled, rambling character of many hillside neighborhoods. She artfully weaves the rampant foliage spilling out from her canvas with a mélange of architectural styles that constitute Los Angeles’ built legacy. Her moody grayed-out palette holds her ambitious composition together in a way that keeps focus on the unity of the scene without overwhelming the viewer.
Across the gallery, Iris Yirei Hu’s, The Descendants, dominates and comes perilously close to overwhelming itself and everything around it. This pop colored, mural-sized painting integrates geometric patterning, interior and exterior scenes of homes along with family portraits. Fabric drapes down the side of this immense jigsaw puzzle of a painting that, like a challenging puzzle, avoids a perspective that could help the viewer readily interpret the scene. But Hu manages to make it all work in an explosive collage of a family history, the story of her family and the universal immigrant experience.
Katie Herzog is represented by several paintings in the show, each stylistically very different from the next. Free estimates/Without electricity and L Lu Sub/ Elusive G, are each comprised of two canvases displayed side by side, both memorializing signs found in Los Angeles. While Herzog’s primary interest may be in language and letterforms, these works capture the light and attitude of the southern California landscape.
There is much else to see at Human Resources: two graphic paintings by Devon Tsuno capture the natural habitat of local plants in anything but a natural way and there are several notable paintings by Kristin Calabrese, Jemima Wyman, John Bartel and others. You may linger for a long while in front of these works, but it will likely be more to decipher a complex image than to meditate upon a mood. Overall that is not a problem for the viewer; instead it is a rewarding challenge.
Supercaliforniagilisticexpialibodcious will be up through September 10.
Artists: Asher Hartman, Ben White, Christine Wang, Devon Tsuno, Guan Rong, Iris Yirei Hu, Jemima Wyman, John Bertel, Katie Herzog (with Andrew Choate), Kristin Calabrese, Sarita Dougherty, Trulee Hall.