Texas at Philip Martin Gallery
Curated by Matthew Brown
Through June 30th
By Lorraine Heitzman
While Texas, currently at the Philip Martin Gallery, may not be as super-sized as its formidable namesake, it is nevertheless an expansive survey of art that includes eighteen artists who are associated with the Lone Star state. Some are considered stalwarts of the Texas art scene but no longer live there, like Peter Saul, who taught at the University of Texas in Austin in the eighties and nineties but now lives in New York, and Terry Allen, perhaps better known as a Texan musician than a Texan artist, who was born in Lubbock and now resides in Santa Fe. Other artists continue to make their home there, from Houston (Trenton Doyle Hancock, Darlo Robleto, Mark Flood, Vincent Valdez and Paul Kremer), to Dallas (Stephen Lapthisophon), and Austin (Deborah Roberts). Whether they were born, educated or live in Texas today, each of these accomplished artists can claim a connection to this illustrious state.
There is no singular, defining regional characteristic here; no bravado that one usually associates with Texas. By and large this sampling is diverse, contemporary and sophisticated. A few artists share sensibilities and concerns, but it could be argued that their artistic visions were forged elsewhere. Both Saul, Allen and Hancock exhibit works that possess a playful, humorous quality, so just when you conclude that a comic element is the underlying common denominator, Kremer’s absolute abstraction, Lapthisophon’s organic expressionism and Moffet’s surrealistic, geometric construction cause you to reevaluate your assumption.
Deborah Roberts, concurrently in a solo show, Fragile but Fixable, at Luis de Jesus Gallery has a single collage that pointedly addresses the politics of race and gender. The Critique is a partial portrait of a young, black girl being manipulated by hands that signify America. Her acute vision and minimal approach to portraiture is both politically and personally effective. Adriana Corral also gets political with Preamble, a wall piece that features burned copies of the universal Declaration of Human Rights, in a more conceptual approach to current events.
Trenton Doyle Hancock is represented by two paintings at Philip Martin: Becoming the Toymaker, Phase 33 of 41 and Becoming the Toymaker, Phase 27 of 41. Both paintings stand out for their combination of cartoon-like imagery and Pop Art sensibility. With an assured, simple style, he creates a psychological selfie, as humorous as it is revealing. Hancock also has other business in Los Angeles; his curated show, From Pangs to Pangolins opened at Shulamit Nazarian on June 2.
Curator Matthew Brown has assembled a show that samples many influencers in contemporary art. That these artists all have a connection with Texas is perhaps incidental to their development, but this show is ultimately rewarding for introducing us to their work and seeing familiar artists in a different context.
Included in Texas are Terry Allen, Adriana Corral, Melvin Edwards, Mark Flood, Dana Frankfort, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Todd Hebert, Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler, Paul Kremer, Stephen Lapthisophon, Donald Moffett, Deborah Roberts, Darlo Robleto, Emily Mae Smith, Sally Saul, Peter Saul, and Vincent Valdez.
Philip Martin Gallery
2712 S. La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Wednesday – Saturday 11-6 and by appointment