Pick of the Week for March 26th, 2012

–Ellsworth Kelly at Matthew Marks, LA and LACMA

Ellsworth Kelly, Installation View at Matthew Marks Gallery LA

Ellsworth Kelly’s stunning show at the newly minted Matthew Marks Gallery in Los Angeles is sublime. Flat color and form dance on the walls with natural light bathing the space like a Bonnard Nude. The Gallery facade itself is a work of art by Kelly proving art and architecture don’t have to be awkward bedfellows. Coupled with LACMA’s buoyant print and painting exhibition nestled in the second floor of the cavernous BCAM, it’s a season to appreciate Kelly the iconoclast. Indeed his particular form of hard edge abstraction seems ever more relevant in an aesthetic landscape of indulgences and navel gazing.

Exterior View of Matthew Marks Gallery, Los Angeles

The exhibition at LACMA is a full 90 per cent prints dating from 1960’s to 2008. Mediums include silkscreen, lithography and intaglio. Kelly’s preferred medium though is lithography which allows for his crisp curves and saturated colors to be brought to life to the greatest effect. Most stunning is a set of six large vertical grisaille abstractions that reference the reflections of rivers around the world. The technique is impossible to ascertain but the effect is absorbing. Viewed close up the mark making is mysterious and rhythmic. Step back and the dappled sunlight snaps into perception. This series, like others in the show, prove that serial investigation has limitless potential in the hands of a consummate veteran.

Ellsworth Kelly, Black Form I 2011 Painted aluminum 80 x 71 3/4 x 4 1/4 inches; 203 x 182 x 11 cm Photo: MMMuller

The Matthew Marks exhibition proves the bravura of Kelly in a more ambitious media. In five of the six major works on display two shaped canvases overlap creating balletic pas de deux’s of light, shadow, form and color. Moving slowing around each piece like a dolly shot in cinema reveals subtle shifts of optical effect. The contrast and pairing of color creates nothing less than a retinal vibration. The sixth piece, titled Black Form, is painted Aluminum. It is a single form and the crispness of the edge and the light absorbing black draws you in like a stage whisper.

Ellsworth Kelly at Matthew Marks is on display until April 7th, 2012

Ellsworth Kelly at LACMA is on display until April 22nd, 2012

-Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, March 25th, 2012


also by Mario M. Muller

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