Dear Leila Khastoo

Dear Leila,

Thank you for Khastoo Gallery. From the first show in November 2008 till the reading by Amir Mogharabi from “Non Optation” which closed the space this past St. Valentine’s Day you have presented some fourteen different and equally excellent exhibitions and performances and film events and readings.

When you opened on Sunset Blvd you joined a new Hollywood scene that was defining intellectual rigor among Los Angeles gallery neighborhoods and gaining international attention.

As I recall, it must have been Saturday, November 22, 2008 that David and I first walked into your space and saw “The Crack Up,” the inaugural exhibition in your then new space. I cannot believe it has been this long!

"The Crack Up," November/December 2008 exhibition at Khastoo Gallery, installation view

"The Crack Up," November/December 2008 exhibition at Khastoo Gallery, installation view

Pierre Molinier, Moiznos or Tois, moi, 1968 Vintage gelatin silver print (photomontage), 8 5/8 x 6 ¾ inches (21.9 x 17.1 cm) Initialed and dated (by artist?) on verso

Pierre Molinier, Moiznos or Tois, moi, 1968 Vintage gelatin silver print (photomontage), 8 5/8 x 6 ¾ inches (21.9 x 17.1 cm) Initialed and dated (by artist?) on verso

Hans Bellmer, La Poupée (p. 50, bottom, untrimmed), 1935 Vintage gelatin silver print, 6 5/8 x 6 7/8 inches (16.8 x 17.5 cm) – image

Hans Bellmer, La Poupée (p. 50, bottom, untrimmed), 1935 Vintage gelatin silver print, 6 5/8 x 6 7/8 inches (16.8 x 17.5 cm) – image

More are the installation shots!

More are the installation shots!

We were completely charmed by that first show, and indeed by your generous nature. As we spoke, you offered valuable insights to the work you were showing and suggested references for future investigation. I would characterize your manner that afternoon as “one who combines a scholarly depth of knowledge with the passion of a lover.” Clearly this new Khastoo Gallery would be a place to watch!

The work in that exhibition was by a fascinating breadth of artist talent, vintage and pursuit: Vito Acconci, Bas Jan Ader, Ronnie Bass, Hans Bellmer, Dan Estabrook, Ghazel, Pierre Molinier, Adam Putnam, Vahid Sharifian, Jack Smith, and Francesca Woodman. Eek. So many names! Heroes, strangers, and curious sounding artists who, when I spoke their names to my friends these friends’ eyes bulged and they became quite animated!

Hans Bellmer, Untitled (study for an engraving for André Pieyre de Mandiargues’ L’Anglais décrit dans le chateau fermé. 1st engraving for Mode d’Emploi 1967), Executed in 1953 Ink on paper, 8 ¼ x 5 5/16 inches (21 x 13.5 cm)

Hans Bellmer, Untitled (study for an engraving for André Pieyre de Mandiargues’ L’Anglais décrit dans le chateau fermé. 1st engraving for Mode d’Emploi 1967), Executed in 1953 Ink on paper, 8 ¼ x 5 5/16 inches (21 x 13.5 cm)

Hans Bellmer, L’Idole (p. 104, b/w), 1937 – 1938 (derived from 1935 image) Vintage gelatin silver print, 5 5/8 x 5 5/8 inches (14.5 x 14.5 cm)

Hans Bellmer, L’Idole (p. 104, b/w), 1937 – 1938 (derived from 1935 image) Vintage gelatin silver print, 5 5/8 x 5 5/8 inches (14.5 x 14.5 cm)

Ronnie Bass, The Accident, 2008 Inkjet print on canvas, mounted on board, 5.5 x 7.5 inches (14 x 19.1 cm), Edition 2/10

Ronnie Bass, The Accident, 2008 Inkjet print on canvas, mounted on board, 5.5 x 7.5 inches (14 x 19.1 cm), Edition 2/10

Dan Estabrook, The Large Studio, 2002 Calotype negatives printed by the artist, 16 x 19 inches

Dan Estabrook, The Large Studio, 2002 Calotype negatives printed by the artist, 16 x 19 inches

I’m going image heavy with this post because I want you to understand the sense of magic. From bleached brightness of Sunset Blvd we walked into a somewhat darkened space of the art gallery, expecting to find white walls and a desk and… art. Instead we entered an atmosphere that was slightly musty, with dated, vaguely French or Middle European middle class furnishings. Art was hung on the walls as it would be in a home.

I was driven to flights of fancy!

Another installation view, this with intrepid chair. This chair reminds me of a faithful manservant quietly crossing Master's room, minding his step - his body gliding as his feet rise and fall.

Another installation view, this with intrepid chair. This chair reminds me of a faithful manservant quietly crossing Master's room, minding his step - his body gliding as his feet rise and fall.

In my mind this installation had the preserved-in-amber feel of some elderly intellectual bachelor uncle’s rooms. Once upon a time, this gentleman’s apartment had been rather splendid, his life at University had showed great promise – coming under the influence, as he had, of several gentleman scholars of good repute; in his life after school he studied obscure art historical questions and collected widely from several cultures and times. Slowly he withdrew from society, the gilt-edged bonds that had sustained him in gracious comfort payed less and less and in straightened circumstances he began to think about retiring from society. The collection and the books intact, new, more affordable rooms were found and he and his friendly valet live, reading to each other from Ananda Coomaraswamy and Matthew Arnold and together translating Greek poets. Now, our friendly uncle opens his home to those curious and perceptive enough to enquire.

All of this, my friends, Leila Khastoo pulled off in several short days of installation and god only knows how many hours of searching, begging and filling out loan forms.

Tour de fucking force.

"The Crack Up," installation view

"The Crack Up," installation view

I missed Aurelian Froment’s performance in January of 2009 but I heard about it from friends. I hate missing things.

Aurelien Fromentm "Code countdown," January 23, 2009 Khastoo Gallery

Aurelien Fromentm "Code countdown," January 23, 2009 Khastoo Gallery

Vahid Sharifian, Untitled (Birdcage), 2008 Painted metal, plastic fruit, 24 x 27 x 75 inches, unique

Vahid Sharifian, Untitled (Birdcage), 2008 Painted metal, plastic fruit, 24 x 27 x 75 inches, unique

I do have vivid and fond memories of Vahid Sharifian’s solo show “My Father Is a Democrat,”  and all the spectacular work from “Thunk.”

To the left Rob Reynolds, Untitled (Shadow #1),  2006  Oil on canvas, bricks, 90 x 96 inches (And through the door Leila Khastoo)

To the left Rob Reynolds, Untitled (Shadow #1), 2006 Oil on canvas, bricks, 90 x 96 inches (And through the door Leila Khastoo)

Jimmy Raskin, The (Documentarian’s) Return of The Drunken Boat, 2009 Birch plywood, Styrofoam, cement compound, various party supplies, mixed medium, acrylic gel 8 x 34 x 52 inches

Jimmy Raskin, The (Documentarian’s) Return of The Drunken Boat, 2009 Birch plywood, Styrofoam, cement compound, various party supplies, mixed medium, acrylic gel 8 x 34 x 52 inches

Raskin again. Don't you wish you had seen this?

Raskin again. Don't you wish you had seen this?

Rob Reynolds, Untitled (Disco Ball Rainbow), 2003 Disco ball, aluminum backing, 12 x 24 inches, Edition 2/3 As I recall Reynolds also showed a blackish rainbow in this show. It's a shape he revisits often, I believe. I've recently had the pleasure of seeing the image of a black rainbow used to powerful effect as an often revisited theme by artist Joe Hardesty. Live long enough to see more, that is my motto for the day.

Rob Reynolds, Untitled (Disco Ball Rainbow), 2003 Disco ball, aluminum backing, 12 x 24 inches, Edition 2/3 As I recall Reynolds also showed a blackish rainbow in this show. It's a shape he revisits often, I believe. I've recently had the pleasure of seeing the image of a black rainbow used to powerful effect as an often revisited theme by artist Joe Hardesty. Live long enough to see more, that is my motto for the day.

James Hyde, Big Beanbag, 2005 Acrylic on linen, inflatable packing stuffing, 72 x 72 x 72 inches. This image was titled "Aida Happy" and I wonder if we see Aida perched in yon bean bag? If Leila tells me be sure I'll pass the info along!

James Hyde, Big Beanbag, 2005 Acrylic on linen, inflatable packing stuffing, 72 x 72 x 72 inches. This image was titled "Aida Happy" and I wonder if we see Aida perched in yon bean bag? If Leila tells me be sure I'll pass the info along!

It is obvious to me that I could go on all night, uploading images and telling stories. What a wealth! I haven’t even mentioned Terri and Donna or Greg Parma Smith or for heaven’s sake June Wayne!! The Hollis Frampton Film Festival!! “The Alchemy of Things Unknown” which featured, among other wonders paintings by Aleister Crowley and a tall, narrow pyramidal sound sculpture chamber by….. for crying out loud I cannot recall. I think the sounds were Angus Maclise and possibly Austin Osman Spare made the pyramid. Dunno. It was fabulous.

I’m going to leave you briefly my friends, there is much more for me to tell!!! Tomorrow I’ll tease you with more great memories and also news of Leila Khastoo at Booth 966 at the Armory Fair in NY. I understand the special collector preview is on Wednesday, March 2 – count this as fair warning my friends, you want to visit this booth. Treasures await!

Well maybe one image, this is Zach Harris, "Garden of Flowering Fragrance" I visited Zach's studio a week or so ago and came away with images. Not mine, but yours. Yay!

Well maybe one image, this is Zach Harris, "Garden of Flowering Fragrance" I visited Zach's studio a week or so ago and came away with images. Not mine, but yours. Yay!

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *