Through April 19 - Aidan Koch: Notes at City Limits. Though this was my first visit to the gallery City Limits has existed for a couple years now, first as a project operated out of artist/curator Evan Reiser's home in San Francisco and now as a beautiful light-filled space near Jack London Square in Oakland co-run by Alyssa Block. The gallery specifically encourages artists and curators to show work that is different than their usual practice, and in this case Aidan Koch has pushed beyond linear narrative into a mesmerizing stream of consciousness. Small drawings and paintings are arranged on a table's surface with ceramic sculptures placed on top, and her references include the human body, landscape and nature, and more abstracted forms. Koch has created a number of other lovely moments around the gallery space, and she also worked with Portland's Publication Studio to print an exhibition catalogue that contains images from the show as well as writings that serve as rough-hewn sketches in text:
Light shifting over the valley. The atmosphere flattening the hills and trees, denying depth, fog masking the colors: homogeneity of tone.
The trilogy of Daniel Craig Bond movies are a guilty pleasure of mine, and I have a series of coincidental associations with each one of them. For Skyfall I happened to be in Istanbul just as it was being released, and all anyone could still talk about there was what a pain it had been when they shot the (awesome) opening sequence in the Grand Bazaar. And then there was the couple in the hotel room next to mine who kept blasting the theme song by Adele over and over again, into the wee hours. Sam Mendes does a cracking job with Skyfall, and he keeps things interesting with plenty of inventive action sequences and and things going "boom!" plus a good old-fashioned shoot-out at the end. But the movie would be nothing without its sublime roster of actors: Daniel Craig, keeping things sexy; Javier Bardem, chewing scenery with abandon; Ben Whishaw, snappy and whip-smart as the new Q; and of course Judi Dench, elevating every scene she's in. Here's hoping that the rumors of Chiwetel Ejiofor as the next Bond villain turn out to be true too.
I just picked up a pile of these Famous Class LAMC split 7-inches, and every one of them is a gem. The act on the A-side picked what artist they wanted to see on the B-side, so in this case you get the absolute noise pop perfection that is Mikal Cronin's songwriting on one side and a blast of heavy psychedelic fuzz from the up-and-coming Wand on the B. Plus I am digging that dinosaur cover art so hard.
Through April 11 - Chris Hood: Tony Clifton Eats for Free at Et al. To be able to enjoy this superb show the viewer needs no previous knowledge of Tony Clifton, the legendary character invented by Andy Kaufman and perpetuated by Bob Zmuda and others since Kaufman's death. However, it's fun to learn the title derives from the fact that Clifton's Cafeteria in L.A. (currently closed for remodeling of its glorious kitsch btw) allegedly maintains an open tab for Tony Clifton, a wonderfully surreal set-up if ever there was one. Hood's paintings and installations utilize a similar tension between the real and the imagined as he liberally references pop culture iconography, mixing recognizable images and abstracted forms with glee. The L.A. artist applies color directly onto unprimed canvas and also dilutes his paint so that his work appears to be doing a slow fade-out from our memory before our very eyes. Tony Clifton Eats for Free contains a delightfully fractured body of work that echoes the nature of how we absorb and process information in these media-saturated days.
It is my firm belief that Krzysztof Kieslowski's Red is the most perfect film ever made. Though there are a few very nice "a-ha!" moments if you've seen Blue and White first, it also stands on its own as a self-contained tale about young Valentine (played by the always-luminous Irène Jacob) and the retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) whose fate is inexplicably intertwined with hers. I watch it every year on or near my birthday, and even after seeing it 20 times I always notice some new nuance or detail. Kieslowski portrays the quiet melancholy of solitude so accurately, not as a raging sadness but for instance in the way Valentine takes a moment to massage her hands in her car at the end of the day. It is thrilling to watch as she and the judge accidentally find their way into each other's lives, and as they immediately converse so openly and honestly, without barriers. As for the film itself no detail goes unaccounted for in the overlapping lives we see onscreen, and the camera echoes the complexity of the storytelling by doing some amazing things with movement, reflection, and light itself. The themes of destiny and happenstance spiral together and resolve so beautifully that the final moments of the film are literally breathtaking. Only connect, indeed.
There's some complicated backstory for this 7" that I'm not going to get too heavily into, but suffice it to say this is a tribute to Japanese/German (?!) outfit Metalucifer who are themselves ever so metal. MetalUSAfer is the great Chris Black of High Spirits and Dawnbringer, and he has a lot of fun here doing metal that is pretty silly (there's a percussion moment on the title track that literally makes me laugh out loud every time I hear it) but also genuinely rocking. Prepare to headbang.