Peter Holzhauer and Nathan Danilowicz at Primer II
Curator Marco Rios, at the Luckman Gallery, presents yearly an exhibition titled Primer which features a single Los Angeles artist from each of several disciplines and one work or a series from each of these artists. This year Primer II includes work by Yanira Cartagena, Nathan Danilowicz, Peter Holzhauer, Norm Laich, Hazel Mandujano, & Eric Torborg.
Peter Holzhauer is the representative photographer among this grouping and is an artist whose work I have been following around Los Angeles for several years. In this show all his work is b/w, and all seem to be photographs of Los Angeles, or at least places that might be LA. (Holzhauer works beautifully in color, too, see his website for examples: http://peterholzhauer.com/index.php. Prepare to find more clarity than your eye or brain can handle at one viewing. Insert smile emoticon here.)
I find online a video with Holzhauer discussing LACMA’s New Topographics exhibition of last year and this connection makes sense: Holzhauer pulls incredible specificity out of possibly mundane subjects, much as the photographers of that past day also did. Think about it – how many Jiffy Lube’s litter our landscape and yet how many are there that look like the one above. I’d guess none, because someone needs to take a picture for that level of perfection to happen. In situ, the glowing, magical seeming lube pit pictured above would have neighbors and context and these things fuck up perfection. Choices make pictures – choosing what to leave out as much as what to include.
There is a way in which Holzhauer’s work feels old fashioned to me – how does the artist engage with 21st Century technologies? Where’s the mining of ideas from or critique of social media? How does this work negotiate the history of photography unless one accepts reproduction as negotiation? And then I look again at the photographs that Holzhauer makes, smack my stupid head and remind myself not to buy into a critically limiting progressive reading of culture as constant avant gardism and I pleasure my eye and my mind by looking at and thinking about the photographs themselves. Sometimes not engaging in radicality (to use a term coined by Brian Kennon) can be a most radical act indeed.
Along one wall of the gallery a long, narrow vitrine is suspended and within lay more than one hundred small and meticulous drawings. These works by Nathan Danilowicz are but a small selection from his Quaternities series which was begun in 2002 slightly before the artist visited Amsterdam. Danilowicz titles this selection Scheherezade and for it he chose all the palindromic integers from the larger series, i.e. 131, 252, etc. It may be that I get this story wrong but as I recall Nathan had a dream one night, of a drawing, abstract, angular, possibly symmetrical and done in ink. Arising, he tried to draw what he remembered and by that curious illogic of dream state he thought of this as representing Amsterdam.
Danilowicz made his way to Amsterdam not too long after this dream and he ‘documented’ his stay by making a drawing each day for the series. Eventually the reference to the city faded away but the artist’s fascination with the possibilities presented by this practice continues and has informed much of his work. A large wall drawing makes the point that, when carefully chosen, such images have the ability to engage a large room as entirely as the intimacy of one’s relation to a small drawing engages a single viewer.
It happens that Nathan Danilowicz has participated in the project Prism Index (http://www.prismindex.com/) which is the brainchild and love child of Jeffrey Bowers and brings together visual artists, musicians, writers and takes the form of a publication pairing text with image and a dvd with film and music.
One can hardly read fiction writer Brian Evenson’s text for its tinyness, but perhaps the hint of mystery will incentivize you to log on and order a copy. (To use a hateful term from current corporate HR speak.) Should you require further incentive, visit the official Nathan Danilowicz page within the project http://www.prismindex.com/images/nathan-danilowicz/. Good Lord, Nathan. (I’m just sayin’)
By the way, look at the two drawings imaged above. Don’t you want these to have some four-way symmetry? Doesn’t your eye struggle to ‘make’ sense, until finally you give up and the lines make your eyes sense instead of the other, more comfortable, way around? I can’t impose anything on these works, even though they seem so small, delicate and open to my will.
Hmm. Scheherazade, and another pair of drawings titled Abdullah by land and Abdullah by sea. The 1,001 Nights. Time spent drawing. Time spent looking. Following Danilowicz’ lines with one’s eyes. Tales told to occupy the mind of… in the case of our fair princess, a powerful man who might behead her. The historic writer Richard Burton and adventure and more. Time again. Choosing to continue, to see what next permutation the artist may offer. Dawn. A muse (for the artist?), an ideal(ized) bride, a woman who pleases a man’s mind and is beautiful. Time travel now. A craft, as drawing is. A craft, as one rides in. Amsterdam Square, a place and a plan.
Sudden asymmetry. Occasions without repetition. Bending at the waist, or holding in the hand. Looking up and across. Translation. Time.
There is much more waiting for you at the Luckman Gallery at Cal State Los Angeles. If you check the list of artists above you will understand how much I have missed. Apologies to all. Go to see Primer II.
Primer II is my first experience with the work of Yanera Cartagena, Norm Laich, Hazel Mandujano and Eric Torborg. Each of their work looks great in the space and I believe the images I’ve included below will give you reason to visit this show yourself.
Credit for all images used and not already credited goes to Brian Forrest.
By the way, the above mentioned fiction writer Brian Evenson has been described to me as “a modern day Poe/Kafka hybrid. Evenson’s website is http://www.brianevenson.com/. After my necessarily brief reading this morning I’d say Yes! to the description of Evenson and acknowledge that I am stoked to make this writer’s acquaintance. Life is good.
Luckman Gallery website: http://www.luckmanarts.org/gallery