Black: An Expansion of an Abstract Arena
through March 26
The Loft at Liz’s, Los Angeles
By Sydney Walters
“Black” at The Loft at Liz’s in downtown LA presents a unique examination of the color black. Rather than commonplace tropes of black, such as being a signifier of desolation, dreariness or morbid, “Black” highlights both the drama and contemplative sides of darkness.
Artist Camilla Taylor works almost exclusively in a monochromatic pallet. She exhibits lithographs of hands reflected as if in water. This double pattern of hands is repeated over and over on the back wall behind three pedestals. On one pedestal is a sculpture of a hand with jet-black hair that pours out of the wrist and curls under the hand. Next to it, a pair of feet is encircled with a black braid of hair coming from inside the ankles. Taylor’s work often has creatures turned in on themselves. Her creations are both organism and environment since they never quite escape themselves.
In one corner, hangs Stefano Panichi’s large collection of paintings, Faces, Four, and Caravaggio. To elucidate flesh, Panichi interlaces thin red, yellow and blue lines to make corporeal forms akin to blood vessels. Although the figures are not black, they free float in space among a black vacuum of emptiness. The acute contrast between the black and the figures adds to the Renaissance-like drama.
Sculptural painter Kelly Berg creates small environments quaking with force. She uses mirror styrene and plexiglass to give the illusion of depth in her acrylic paintings. The result is violent protuberances that cast their menacing effect beyond the limit of their small dimension.
Down one of the staircases is artist Jeff Iorillo’s Remnants of Time. These mixed media pieces are foundationally acid-free cardboard and then layered with various elements such as unfired porcelain and terra-cotta, bamboo ashes, beeswax and Japanese sumi ink. Through layers of construction and deconstruction, Iorillo achieves a delicate aesthetic of burnt and salvaged material.
Accomplished painter Andy Moses takes his signature marbling technique in Void and Micro Galactic. Painted on a singular canvas, Moses divides the composition into either a diptych or triptych. Keeping religious iconography in mind, Moses pushes his paintings into the stratosphere, replacing the traditionally rendered gold-leafed heavenly realm into an abstracted galaxy.
Another artist specializing in texture is mixed media artist Miguel Osuna. Osuna drags and excavates free flowing textures across panels. In his Islands series, black matte archipelagos are embedded in sea of polished black. This collection of five resin and graphite pieces float in a featureless map pointing to the isolation and individualization of these secluded isles.
Venue director Liz Gordon says that working around a color theme allows for more abstract interpretation. None of these artists, save perhaps Camilla Taylor, work exclusively with black and that restriction is a unique creative opportunity. In “Black”, the color is a mode of movement. As T.S. Eliot so precisely describes in East Coker III, “I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre, the lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed with a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness.” This exhibit is a prime example of changing scenes and the rising tides of darkness on darkness.
Artists included: Kelly Berg, Carlos Grasso, Michael Hayden, Jeff Iorillo, Veda B. Kaya, Rosana Lagos, Andy Moses, Lindsey Nobel, Miguel Osuna, Stefano Panichi and Camilla Taylor.