LA is culturally vibrant with Canadians right in the flow of the creative, happening buzz. Not a totally new decision, the run to the sun; one of LA’s most progressive commercial spaces, ACE Gallery, LA’s longest running commercial art space has been flourishing and expanding under a Vancouverite, David Chrismas since he opened it in 1967.
There is a new gallery district blooming in LA south on Sante Fe Avenue where in the vanguard, Chris Cran’s son, Anthony, and his wife Naomi Deluce Wilding have opened Wilding Cran Gallery. Christian Eckart opened post-post (January 30 to March 26).
Designed by the architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, The Broad Museum had recently opened (no admission charges, daily 3 hour line-ups) – an outstanding comprehensive collection in a stunning space. There are six Eckart works within the collection and there was a rumour that Eli Broad might come to the opening adding sparkle. The gallery was alive with animated conversation about the featured piece, The Absurd Vehicle.
The transport truck delivering the Eckarts had rolled in from Texas, where Eckart currently works and resides. The gallery space was overwhelmed by the futuristic ‘octupustic’ art machine, a hybrid sculpture with a golden-mauve automotive finish that changes colour as it is passed. A lip rolls back off an oval opening, harkening to a bottomless claw foot tub tipped on end. With struts supporting shiny wheels with black bloated tires, it looks like it could move but the wheels all head in opposite directions.
Reconfigured framed pieces form golden, glamorous backdrops for the stellar company. A wall installation of candy coloured glass and chrome twinkles at a myriad of angles and thrilling sensations of endless reflective spaces alters the perception like an early acid trip.
Christian Eckart is also currently (Jan 20 to Feb 27) part of the Haunting Holbein exhibition with Evan Penny and Vikky Alexander at Trepanier Baer Gallery in Calgary where Chris Cran also shows.
Cran introduces Etienne Zack, who invites us further south where his studio is in Building 8 of an ex-military barracks on the tip of the LA peninsula. He is working on “Those lacking imagination take refuge in reality”, his exhibition at the Eskar Foundation, May 26 – August 28. The studio is an unexpectedly modest size but Zack says this works well for the current series because it was important for him to be closer to the work and as if we have walked into a study or library, the walls are brought even closer by stacks of books depicted on canvases big enough to walk into. There is a rich studious aura in this maze of books and piled papers, an architectonic with an opulent palate like the shimmering fabrics of a Veronese; tangerine, teal, burgundy, ivory, viridian – renaissance tones that would suit a connoisseur’s taste. The pictorial space is fractured so that the perspective shifts to form compartments. There are cubbyhole spaces made from books, sheaves of notes forming divisions, cross sections of books sliced on diagonals, block letters that are platforms or roofs to cubicles. There is the indication of texts and cover designs, swatches of graphics, blurred signs of meaningful content and the heady message that man in the information age, dealing with overwhelming masses of recorded knowledge is still compelled to speak. An adept painter who brings forward a wealth of chromatic nuance, Zack’s interpretation presents an aesthetically balanced rendition of man’s obsession with data.
He has integrated tube lighting so pure and white that it reads as a bar of virgin space as yet uncluttered by the crowds of words. Wires weave through the blocks of books, the snaky lines lyrical amongst the rigid minimal rectangles. The round bulbs bring a feminine accent into the masculine composition.
Just as the presence of light operates through the painted bulbs, illuminations and reflections, so man’s physical self, the figure, is implied through his absence. There are no people in Zack’s paintings, never have been. The evidence of people is in the objects borrowed from figures, the remnants of humans, man’s markings.
There is similar dynamic at play with Eckart. He has visually rendered inoperable machines, uninhabited picture frames and invented contrived wall reliefs of light; objects where the value to humans cannot be readily discerned except as a collectible.
Snow birds are convening on the playing field in LA where an expanded potential for exposure – to collectors as well as the sun – sets up an attractive compliment to market and exhibition constraints in Canada. It’s enticing and it’s also just beginning. Eckart, Zack and those many years before, David Chrismas, may have a prescient vision that the art world will soon tune into in greater mass