Friday, March 30, 2018

David Hockney And Alison Saar At The LA Louver

I couldn't make the big opening for the new shows at the LA Louver last Wednesday evening, as I had a prior engagement, but I'm not mad. I just went to check out the art the next day, up close, sans crowd, where I really got to appreciate it. Downstairs at the Venice Boulevard gallery is showing Topsy Turvy from Alison Saar, and it is excellent. "Topsy" refers to the character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, and the wood sculptures and paintings on vintage linens portray the slave girl as a symbol of defiance.

The room is dominated by the five life-sized girls holding tools that were used in southern plantation crops: a machete, tobacco knife, hoe, sickle, and bale hook. They are going after the masters and are camouflaged by cotton branches. Someone had called my friends at Fiore Designs to order an arrangement to gift Saar on the night of the opening, and had asked for something featuring cotton blossoms, and now I understood why.

The Wrath Of Topsy sculpture shows off the little pigtails that remind one of Medusa  ...

... and High Cotton has the young girls ready for war.

From the press release, "For Saar, these works summon the collected rage and frustration for our current times" and were inspired by the poet Audra Lorde, who said that, "Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time ... I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives there. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices." That is so heavy, and so true. Kudos to Saar for portraying these truths in such a beautiful and touching way.

Upstairs is the new David Hockney show, in celebration of the classic L.A. artist's 80th birthday. It's a lot lighter fare, both in theme and colors used. Each piece was created on either an Ipad or an Iphone, showing just how far technology has advanced in the art world. As Hockney has said, "Anyone who likes drawings and mark-making will like to explore new media."

All of the work was done between 2009-2012, and the Louver show marks the first time they will be on view in Los Angeles. The portability of the phone and Ipad gave Hockney the means to create anytime, anywhere, and as his proficiency on the technology grew, so did the drawings. It's extra impressive, considering many of his generation have trouble just sorting out how to text. Hockney gets it.

With subjects ranging from oranges to ashtrays to his own self-portraits, Hockney turned his screen drawings into prints, which are what you will see at the Louver. Some of the works were originally shown in Paris at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent, where they were actually displayed on phones and pads. The prints make it much easier, I imagine, to view all the subtle strokes and colors of Hockney's vision.

Those saturated colors cheer you up the moment you reach the room at the top of the stairs, and make one want to have them all, as it's pretty hard to choose a favorite from such a bright and sunny collection. If pressed, I'd go with the bowl of oranges or the sunrise from Hockney's bedroom window. I love the quote in Hockney's press release - "I draw flowers every day on my Iphone and send them to my friends, so they get fresh flowers every morning ... and my flowers last." Well, if Hockney is still accepting new friends ... please count me among them. I love eternal flowers. 

It's Good Friday, and checking out this wonderful exhibition could make it a Great Friday. In fact, it kind of goes with the holiday weekend ... the darkness and uncertainty of Good Friday (and our current world), followed by the beauty and hope of Easter Sunday (with the optimism that things can be reborn and light will come again).  Wherever you are, I hope you will feel that hope.

David Hockney Iphone and Ipad Drawings 2009-12

Alison Saar Topsy Turvy 

Both showing at LA Louver now through May 12, 2018 

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