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Top 3 This Week

Let Lindsay Preston Zappas curate your art viewing experiences this week. Here are our Top 3 picks of what not to miss. Scroll down for Insider stories.

All photographs by Erik Benjamins; courtesy of the photographer and Marta, Los Angeles.

1. "Built In" at Neutra VDL House

The architect Richard Neutra’s modernist buildings are sprinkled across Los Angeles, and the Neutra VDL House in Silverlake, where the architect lived, is now a historic landmark as well as occasional exhibition space. Currently on view is “Built In,” curated by Marta Gallery and Erik Benjamins. The show — which includes 32 artists — propositioned the participants to approach the house’s idiosyncratic design to create subtle interventions integrated into the structure of the architecture. Some works — like L.A. Door’s plush gingham recliner in the living room, or PapiBoyBabyBoi’s “Flipped Flipper Numbers,” in which the artists’ catroonishly large red numbers replace the building’s sleek Neutraface address numbers — stand in stark contrast to the house’s otherwise minimalist trappings. Poetic responses to the house abound, such as a scent-based project by Emily Endo in which each of the home’s three floors inspired a custom perfume, or the ikebana arrangements by Kyoko Oshiro for which the artist used a hodgepodge of vessels found in the house itself. Together, the exhibition is a profound and subtle response, a redux on a notable and historic house (and its maker) that softens its legacy while introducing new pathways for understanding the ways we live and connect with spaces we inhabit.

On view: September 18 – November 7, 2021 | Open map

Ilona Szwarc, “Virgin Soap” at Diane Rosenstein. Image courtesy of the artist and Diane Rosenstein Gallery. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer.


Ilona Szwarc at Diane Rosenstein Gallery

At Diane Rosenstein in Hollywood, Ilona Szwarc’s “Virgin Soap” is a mixed media exhibition that aestheticizes and sensualizes the artist’s process while blurring the boundaries between maker, model, object, and subject. The show includes photographs that picture the artist in a stylized blue space making a lifecast of a female model’s torso and mouth. Yet beyond simple documentation of the process, the pictures are aestheticized and almost advertorial. In a series of photos that feel both instructional and kinky, the topless model is dressed in slime-green bottoms to match the wet silicone casting material that Szwarc slathers over her exposed breasts and over her mouth. Once removed from the model, the mold itself becomes fodder for a set of photographs wherein the mold feels oddly lifelike.

One photograph, “Color of my nipple is rosy pink,” shows Szwarc leaning over the finished cast torso, which has been painted in life-like skin tones, with a knife to cut excess material off the top of the cast. This typical step of the casting process is infused with strange gravitas and becomes violent and almost cannibalistic. The cast torso in the picture is also presented in the exhibition, exalted on lime green pedestals made from transparent acrylic — a trophy-like doppelganger of Szwarc’s model that closes the loop of the artist’s aestheticized and dramatized studio process.

On view: September 4 – October 9, 2021 Open map

Diane Rosenstein Gallery
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Work by Brody Albert in “We Are All Guests Here” at Bridge Projects. Image courtesy of Bridge Projects. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer.


“We Are All Guests Here” at Bridge Projects

Bridge Projects in Hollywood is a space that focuses on the crosshairs of “contemporary art, spirituality, and religious traditions.” In that vein, its current group exhibition takes the Jewish tradition of Sukkot as its curatorial premise. The show includes seven artists who each have some relationship to the holiday and have responded loosely to its traditions. For Sukkot (a holiday which takes place this week), a sukkah (or temporary dwelling) is built outside of the home. According to wall text in the show, this gesture “acknowledges the contingent nature of shelter by temporarily nudging families slightly out of the boundary of familiar domestic comfort,” and many of artists included accordingly responded to housing’s precarity.

Jenny Yurshanky’s piece, for which the exhibition is named, suspends transparent glass lattice from the ceiling to suggest a porous and ethereal shelter without strict edges. Rael San Fratello’s sukkah built in the center of the gallery is shingled with cardboard signs asking for food and work, purchased by the artist from people who wrote them. Brody Albert’s sculptures are recreations of objects and signage that he comes across in his Lincoln Heights neighborhood, faithfully reproduced in wood and arranged on ad-hoc saw horses and wooden bases. Laser cut wood mimics Little Caesars’ “Hot and Ready” pizza boxes, elevated here to become totem-like ritual objects that honor the culture of his neighborhood. Though the exhibition is curatorially rooted in a specific tradition, many of the works extend outside the boundaries of the specific holiday to point to larger systemic issues like housing insecurity.

On view: September 3, 2021 – January 15, 2022 | Open map

Bridge Projects

A Closer Look

Installation view, Louisiana Museum, Pipilotti Rist, “Åbn min lysning (Open My Glade),” Humlebæk, Denmark, 2019. Photo by Poul Buchard. © Pipilotti Rist. Courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth, and Luhring Augustine.

New MOCA exhibit puts Pipilotti Rist's multimedia art on the big screen


Originally slated to open in February 2020, a solo show by Zürich-based artist Pipilotti Rist has just opened at the Geffen Contemporary, MOCA’s downtown warehouse space. The exhibition, titled “Big Heartedness, Be My Neighbor,” is a 30-year retrospective, yet unlike many retrospectives that follow a dry chronological order, “Big Heartedness” stacks Rist’s work together in a layered and immersive display. Last week, I spoke to KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis about the way Rist breaks conventions of video art, and imbues a punk feminism into her immersive installations. 

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Gallery Talk: Bridge Projects

Gallery talk is your insider look into the stories of gallerists, curators, and artists in the Los Angeles art community.

Jenny Yurshansky, “We Are All Guests Here,” 2021. Lamp worked glass, silver fuming, polyolefin, PVC vinyl, and shadows. Image courtesy of the artist and Bridge Projects. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer.

Art as a Pathway to Spiritual Practice

Bridge Project’s unique mission frames how contemporary artworks can explore spiritual ideas. In regards to “We Are All Guests Here,” Bridge Project’s co-director Linnéa Gabriella Spransy Neuss explained to me that “Sukkot is an ancient, living observance, laden with evocative symbolic potential: harvest, pilgrimage, protection, ancestral connection and ritual, all bundled together. It is a holiday capable of addressing some of life's big questions: what does it mean to love our neighbors; what are our responsibilities to our past neighbors; what does it mean to host a stranger; how do we live together with our deep differences?” Neuss explained that questions like these are often “provoked by both religion and art,” and she was curious to see what would happen when the seven artists included interpreted these themes through “the lens of their practice.” Neuss explains that “the results are elegant and richly diverse—we couldn't be more pleased!”


Lindsay Preston Zappas is KCRW's Arts Correspondent and the founder/ editor-in-chief of Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles (Carla).


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