Archive for March 2011
Today I talked by phone to a consultant. One of the topics was the variety of exhibitions at the gallery. As I look back on the shows, I can see differences in scale and medium, as well as the more obvious variety of individual artists. But one big thing stands out: it is the international scope of the ceramics exhibitions. Over the past 15 years, I’ve brought ceramics to Los Angeles from several countries: Georges Jeanclos from France, Jennifer Lee from England (though she is truly Scottish), Wouter Dam from Holland, Gustavo Pérez from Mexico and Goro Suzuki from Japan.
Last Friday, two of those artists—Gustavo Pérez and Goro Suzuki—met for the first time. Just before the opening, I introduced Suzuki to Pérez, and they had a brief conversation. Gustavo Pérez was extremely pleased to meet Suzuki, an artist that he greatly admires. I stood back and looked at the two of them, and realized how proud I was to have both of them represented at the gallery.
Someday I’ll be able to count a few accomplishments of the many years of the gallery. I expect that international exhibits will be high on the list. Showing and placing the work of major talents from other countries has been an education for me, and an opportunity to expand my worldview. If there are intangible benefits from running an art gallery, this has got to be one of the best.
I realized a couple of months ago that the gallery is now 15 years old. Basically, that also means another milestone: we’ve presented over 150 exhibitions—about 10 per year. It is a source of pride, because in the world of art galleries, that’s an accomplishment. I thought of this again today as we are beginning to prepare the next show.
Recapitulando marks, for the artist Gustavo Pérez, a summation of his work. The Mexican ceramist, who has been exhibiting internationally since 1976, has developed several themes in his ceramic sculpture. This exhibition provides a retrospective look at those series, and presents over 48 works. Significant large scale pieces are included along with Gustavo Pérez’s more familiar vessels, resulting in a complete range of scale and form.
This will be the seventh solo exhibition of Perez’s work at the gallery. Two large scale examples of his work are included in this show, Triangulo and Tablero. The installation piece Triangulo is composed of dozens of small cylinders, cut at a precise angle and placed face-to-face in opposition. The sculpture forms an equilateral triangle, and though it is based in geometry alludes simultaneously to minimal art and optical illusion. Tablero is a wall relief, composed of 49 small abstract forms. Although the individual pieces are made by straightforward folding and forming of the clay, the resulting image has a primitive presence.
Recently, Gustavo completed an excellent interview. I’d highly recommend reading it:
For me, travel is like food. I must have it, to sustain my curiosity. Most changes in my life have come from education, travel, and art—and in the landscape of my imagination. Looking out of the window of a train from Nimes to Paris, I realized how my images of France were first taken from paintings and films. Over forty years ago, I saw the French landscape in the paintings of Courbet, Corot and Cézanne. Back then, too, I traveled through the cities and countryside in the films of Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard.
As a teenager, I took Art History classes and studied French painting, from the Revolution to the early 20th century. It’s now clear to me: those classes were a formative influence on the way I see the world. Not just the way I see the movements, evolution and revolution within the history of Western painting. More than that, those afternoons of endless projected images burned the French landscape into my head.
Art History, as taught in those days, recounted a series of movements, and the work of artists within a school of painting, the dominant mode. Reactions against academies and reflections of cultural change were the chapter headings. The artists’ names and their works were material for memorization, for making sure that you could pass the test and pronounce the names correctly—from Jacques-Louis David and Eugène Delacroix to Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.
But what I saw in the darkened classroom, in paired light-filled slides projected onto pull-down screens, was the romance of the French landscape. From pastoral precedents for Impressionism to the fracturing of the picture plane that led to Cubism, those images of paintings took my imagination for a ride. I’ve never been the same since.
I’m tired of airports. I’ve started to dread traveling just because of the airport hassle. Major airports loom as huge, impersonal places. Security measures are, at the very least, awkward and repetitive. So it was a big relief, and my return to an older and quite civilized mode of travel, when I took the TGV from Paris to Nimes last week.
It was easy. I just walked from my hotel in the Marais, found the right platform at Gare de Lyon, and stepped on to the train. A little while later, on the speeding but quiet train, someone politely asked for—and scanned—my ticket. There was no security line. There was no baggage check. Yet, I felt more comfortable than ever.
In a European station, trains arrive and depart on time. Yes, there is waiting, but it is all within view of the platform, in the light of the station, and with the diversity of humanity. Families and lovers kiss as they say goodbye, and wait expectantly to greet and kiss again on arrival. Children travel in groups. Their delight with train travel is clear. In a light-filled, vaulted train station, everyone moves freely.
I read that President Obama has proposed a high-speed rail system in the U.S. If there were a fast rail system between my home in L.A. and San Francisco, I would take it. Consider the time: from Paris to Nimes was less than three hours, and a similar distance. It would be far easier than the flight, or the long drive that I’ve made a hundred times. I’d take the fast train to Chicago in the winter, too. I never want to be stuck on an icy runway at O’Hare again. Building this kind of infrastructure seems brilliant to me.