Here are some stand-outs from this past weekend's LA art fair scene
Matthew Chambers, Not the University, 2015, acrylic, enamel based adhesive and nylon flocking on canvas
LA-based artist Matthew Chambers had show-stopping flock paintings on view as well as a series of artist's books. Bright and engaging, this new body of work draws the viewer into the experience of the velvety surface. The floral works, while starting from automatic drawings focused on color (some present in the books), were then repainted with matched color enamel adhesive, and then sprayed with nylon or rayon fiber. His series of artist's books, cut and stitched together and then placed in lockable wooden boxes, expose his personal editing process, implying the continuing sense of freedom, risk, failure, work for work's sake, and private catharsis that an artist goes through on a daily basis.
Todd Gray, Takoradi, Cape Coast, Then / Now Same, Same, 2015,
Five archival pigment prints and found antique frames
Todd Gray, born in 1954, lives and works in Los Angeles and Ghana. These eye-catching works are comprised of photographs culled from Gray's own archive and then recontextualized inside antique and artist-made frames. Gray delved into his extensive archive of Michael Jackson photos (he was his personal photographer in the 1980s) and re-purposed them, reframing them alongside his documentary work from Ghana. Gray is careful to resist the viewer's desire to see a complete likeness of Jackson, showing instead detailed fragments of his body, his backup dancers, views from concerts, and placing them against images of African people and Ghanian architecture. The framed photo collages overlap and stack on top of one another, creating a cacophony of photo sculpture.
Todd Gray, Mirror Mirror, 2014,Two archival pigment prints and found antique frames
Charles Mayton, Untitled, 2015, Oil and acrylic on kitchen towel
A New York painter with a Surrealist attitude, Charles brings together art history, painterliness and the consumption of food and art. There are no boundaries between abstraction and realism while he freely mixes traditional painting with found objects. Abstraction painted on kitchen towels marries high art with low functionality. This series conjures up an epic struggle between man and fish amid a torrent of brushwork as the artist continues to expand his multilayered vocabulary.
Charles Mayton, Consider the Missing Lobster, 2015, Oil and acrylic on linen, plastic plates
Pancho Luna, Traveling Souls, 2015
Argentinian artist Pancho Luna remembers his grandmother's library as an eclectic and rather magical place. It contained thousands of volumes in several different languages, which didn't matter all that much since he started exploring them long before he could read anyway. It turns out there's more than one way to read a book -- as pure color, shape, smell, texture, typeface; as repositories of photographs, illustrations, reproductions; and ultimately as sites of experience and triggers of memory -- in short, as both symbols and objects. It is this that Luna explores in his luminous and deceptively simple sculptural works. These carefully curated bookshelves are rendered in transparent lucite, recreating the quality of his experiences in those early days alone in the family library. Luna engineers architectural arrangements in which sequences of individually fabricated "books" are placed as still lifes. The clear, chromatically lined blocks are stacked, aligned, and tilted, setting off slivers of fine lines and bright colors that change as the viewer moves across and around. Luna is a storyteller interested in communicating ideas about art history, global political and social issues, technology, science, architecture, music, religion, and cultural identity. Thus each bookshelf must be understood as a narrative; though these books cannot be opened, they can very much still be read.
Pancho Luna, Blue in Green, 2015
Jannis Varelas' work explores the contrast between appearance and reality and exposes the increasingly theatrical nature of our lives. Harking back to Matisse and using the Paramount Ranch setting as inspiration, Varelas's cowboy paintings were the highlight of this Agoura Hills fair. An alternative project held in the midst of the Santa Monica Mountain range, the land was originally purchased in 1927 by the movie studio Paramount Pictures, before passing through a few hands and eventually becoming property of the National Parks Service in 1980. Having been utilized as a film set, the ranch still has a 'homestead' feel with sets that were used in Little House on the Prairie and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. The fair is rumored to be in its last iteration.