Rebekah Bogard at Sam Lee Gallery
In her first solo exhibition, Rebekah Bogard's clay figurative sculptures are strangely discomfiting. Several animals, including deer and mice operate as stand-in's for a complex array of human experience.
These sculptures comprise a lexicon of complex human narratives that include sexual desire, parenting, marriage and the underpinnings of romantic love. "In Love Me, Love Me Not" for example, Bogard's stand-in deer creatures sit with their backs to each other, holding flowers in their delicate pink hands. This could be a scene of exquisite innocence, except that their very erect and sexually suggestive tails reaching toward the sky, suggest a more adult relationship between them..
Other works, like Sweet Somethings (2008) are more overtly romantic, the two animals seeming to grow fully formed from a pod-like shape surrounded by flowers and hummingbirds, the female of the two pushing out her small pink tongue, once again suggesting a more sexual scenario on the verge of unfolding. In Crossing Boundaries (2008), one animal, its anus very pink and pronounced, investigates another animal that appears to be cleaning its genitals. It's all very quaintly salacious!
Kim McCarty at Kim Light/Lightbox
Kim McCarty continues to astonish us with her brilliant handling of the watercolor medium in this show of portraits and botanicals. There are her signature paintings of nude adolescents. The watery medium itself conveys the fragility of the moment, as they leave the cusp of childhood.
I'm especially taken by the botanicals in this show. A large, nearly monumental watercolor of an iris greets you on the right as you enter the gallery. The petals are in washes of purplish-blue with highlights in red. The main flower is in full and decadent bloom, and is perched on the end of a slightly tilted stem, while a bud further down is branching off that main stem. Five smaller botanicals are hung vertically nearby, one on top of another.Four are leaves in blazing autumnal colors — they look as though they're burning through the paper -- and the fifth is another iris. While McCarty is quite meticulous about the silhouette of these plants, she doesn't paint in all the veins and textures but lets the happy spontaneity of the watercolor medium do its magic.
Greg Bojorquez, Freaky 1s, 1997; courtesy Zero One Gallery
Gregory Bojorquez at 01 Gallery
"The Sun Rises in the East" expands the "The Eastenders" project he started back in 1997, capturing unforgettable characters and scenes of East LA. The black-and-white photographs of girl gangs, The Freaky 1s, and cops hassling the drivers of slammed Buick Regals, No Cruising, are juxtaposed with more recent color images taken at dawn of the primitive paintings on the sides of Latin liquor stores and Mom & Pop grocers, Rego's Market, a neighborhood tradition that is disappearing.
Bojorquez makes his living shooting everyone from hip-hop stars and pro athletes to Antonio Villaraigosa for glossy magazines with his signature vibrant colors and street level flavor. The photos in this exhibit have a very different mood. They are about where he's from. He captures intimate moments of gangsters hanging out, getting high, showing off tattoos, guns tucked into baggy pants. Balanced against this are close-ups of the amazing lipstick/mascara skills of Cholas and young couples finding romance amongst the violence. He presents his images without judgment but with compassion and a sense of humor. He also gives a sense of real community and camaraderie in Eastside culture, something that is rarely documented but is illuminating and exciting to see.
Rachel Sumpter at Richard Heller
The titles of Rachel Sumpter paintings seem to refer to environmentalism and its role as a new kind of theology for the intelligentsia. Grand Finale has a night sky with fireworks blazing above the snow. The edges of the paper seem to creep up on the Eskimos in the image as though the joy and possibility of the scene is quickly fading with the melting of the polar icecaps. She points to the tenuous balance between humanity and nature as well as the potential to destroy our own species and our faith if we fail to redeem ourselves. The images of Inuit people surrounding desert plants in the snow, forcing palm trees into non-native ground, swimming in trash at the beach and paddling through waste in a kayak are accusatory looks at life in Los Angeles and around the globe. Perhaps "Molten Kin" the title of the show, is the brotherhood we will all share if global warming continues to destroy the ozone layer and wreak havoc on the globe. Maybe at that point we will come together as a human tribe, renewing our faith in one another.
Lisa Yuskavage, PieFace, 2008; courtesy David Zwirner, New York
Lisa Yuskavage at David Zwirner
Lisa Yuskavage's last show at David Zwirner gallery was irritatingly dull. Those who liked it defended it on the basis of beauty or technique. Whatever. The sex was toned down and — in an odd, telling, correlation — so were the colors. The sex is back and, interestingly, this seems to have an energizing effect on Yuskavage's technique as well. She's obviously having more fun now.
The money-shot here was provided in the form of cream pies plastered all over the faces of comically buxom babes. These paintings aren't — to use Hugh Hefner's famous phrase — as gynecological as the spread-eagle shots in several other works, but they are more suggestive. By punning on the porn slang term "cream pie," these works offer a Hefner-esque comment, as well: that sex is fun and that, furthermore, good sex is more like low-brow comedy than an anatomy lesson.
This show, while far from spectacular, offers up the idea that Yuskavage's work may best be seen as an art-historical corrective, a comment on Rococo painters like Fragonard and Boucher: all those rosy cheeks in elegant boudoirs that never really got to the point.