This month brings ten exhibitions that confront and embrace the contradiction, fragmentation, and hybridity of our contemporary condition. MOCA’s Simone Forti retrospective celebrates the influential choreographer, who has been blurring the boundaries between dance and art for six decades. At M+B, Nevena Prijic’s paintings draw on neolithic sculpture and space-age aesthetics, while Carlos Jaramillo’s photographs at Guerrero Gallery document California’s largest charreada, a traditionally Mexican rodeo event taking place just east of LA. Victor Estrada’s drawings and paintings, on view at ArtCenter, showcase his idiosyncratic style that fuses punk, pop, graffiti, and the grotesque in a wild, but characteristically Angeleno, combination.
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Nevena Prijic: Skin of the Sun
Nevena Prijic’s paintings explore a bio-futurist fusion of body and technology. Through semi-transparent layers of color, she renders suggestive organic shapes alongside hard-edged geometries that update modernist prototypes of the “man-machine.” Resembling psychedelic Rorschach blots, her forms are influenced by Neolithic Vincha sculptures produced thousands of years ago in what is now Serbia, updated with space-age pinstriping and corporeal details of humans, animals, and insects.
M+B Doheny (mbart.com)
468 and 470 North Doheny Drive, West Hollywood, California
Through January 7
Carlos Jaramillo: Tierra del Sol
Charrería is a Mexican equestrian event that features horseback riding, rodeo, and various ranch activities. It developed in the haciendas of colonial Mexico, and has been designated as the country’s official national sport. Tierra del Sol is an exhibition of Carlos Jaramillo’s photographs from California’s largest charreada, “El Classico del las Americas,” at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena in October 2021. His images portray smartly outfitted charros and escaramuzas during competitions, and in posed photographs taken in a makeshift portrait studio on site. Hay bales and a dirt floor in the gallery provide a physical extension of the work on the walls.
Guerrero Gallery (guerrerogallery.com)
3407 Verdugo Road, Glassell Park, Los Angeles
Through January 14
Koichi Enomoto: Against the day
Kochi Enomoto’s paintings depict wide-eyed manga characters situated amidst overloaded backdrops of birds, buildings, soda cups, rock band logos, and other bits of pop culture. He mixes realism with comic book renderings and abstraction, drawing on weighty art historical sources like Picasso and Mondrian, and fleeting digital traces equally. Against the day, Enomoto’s first solo show outside of Japan, offers Angeleno audiences the chance to witness his visual audacity in person.
Nonaka-Hill Gallery (nonaka-hill.com)
720 N. Highland Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Through January 21
Very Quiet: Michael Kennedy Costa & Benjamin Reiss
Benjamin Reiss’s intricate sculptures take the deadpan detail of scientific models and add a healthy dose of the absurd. Take for instance, “Firearm (Flintlock) (Plumb Tree)” (2018), a cross-section of a hammer, that is revealed to be a gun, that holds not bullets but fruit, and also a miniature bowling ball that exits the barrel through rings of smoke frozen in midair. In the two-person exhibition Very Quiet, Reiss is paired with Michael Kennedy Costa, whose meditative works on paper provide a foil to Reiss’s impeccable weirdness. Atop monochrome grids of sheets of paper taped together, Kennedy Costa draws intimate, irregular forms that resemble topographical maps or perhaps a replicating virus viewed through a microscope.
Hunter Shaw Fine Art (huntershawfineart.com)
5513 Pico Boulevard, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles
Through January 29
Ink, Paper, Stone: Six Women Artists and the Language of Lithography
The Tamarind Lithography Workshop was founded in 1960 in Los Angeles by June Wayne, with the goal of reinvigorating the medium of lithography. Countless artists have since produced editions at Tamarind (which relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1970), drawn by the freedom it offers to experiment through printmaking. Ink, Paper, Stone focuses on six women artists who received fellowships to create prints at Tamarind in the 1960s: Ruth Asawa, Gego, Eleanore Mikus, Louise Nevelson, Irene Siegel, and Hedda Sterne. The works on view range from the figurative to organic abstraction and minimalism, providing a medium-specific snapshot of their varied artistic approaches, as well as the studio that made it possible.
Norton Simon Museum (nortonsimon.org)
411 West Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, California
Through February 13
Faced with the disruptions of contemporary society — war, disease, economic precarity, environmental collapse — artists are expressing a renewed interest in Surrealism and Magical Realism, just as their predecessors did a century ago when confronted with a world gone mad. Although they originated in Europe, these movements historically found a particular resonance in Latin America, where unconventional juxtapositions are embedded in the fabric of everyday life. Sueñx brings together 26 contemporary Latinx artists who embrace Magical Realism to reflect the contradictions and complications of the present.
The Mistake Room (tmr.la)
1811 East 20th Street, Central-Alameda, Los Angeles
Through February 18
Victor Estrada: Purple Mexican
Victor Estrada’s work is quintessentially Angeleno: exuberant, messy, grotesque, pop, and hard to define. Estrada grew up between LA and El Paso, and was a member of the Chicano activist group MEChA as a teen, before attending ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. He garnered national attention when “Baby/Baby” (1991), his massive foam sculpture depicting two big babies joined by a towering phallus, was included in the groundbreaking 1992 MOCA exhibition Helter Skelter: LA Art in the 1990s. Purple Mexican, named for a hybrid strain of marijuana, is a 30-year survey of his drawings, paintings, and sculpture showcasing his broad spectrum of influences from gritty punk aesthetics, to Chicano graphics and cartoon fantasy.
ArtCenter, Peter and Merle Mullin Gallery (artcenter.edu)
1111 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, California
Through February 25
MOCA’s Simone Forti retrospective covers six decades of this pioneering artist and choreographer’s career through works on paper, holograms, video, and performance documentation. After studying with choreographer Anna Halprin in the 1950s, Forti began to experiment with new forms of dance that embraced improvisation, chance, and common movements. In 1961, at Yoko Ono’s New York loft, she debuted her Dance Constructions, which blurred the line between art and dance, exemplifying an interdisciplinary curiosity that she continues to explore. MOCA will be staging performances of Dance Constructions on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, showing the enduring vitality of Forti’s influence.
Museum of Contemporary Art (moca.org)
250 South Grand Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles
January 15-April 2
For Submersion: Sarah Rosalena Brady
The land that the Los Angeles State Historic Park sits on was once the floodplain of the Los Angeles River, an important waterway for the Tongva people who originally inhabited the region. Sarah Rosalena Brady’s For Submersion is a public sculpture in the park commemorating this history. Rosalena incorporates Wixárika yarn painting — an art form practiced by generations of women in her family — and digital fabrication to create a monument that honors tradition while looking ahead to the future. If weather permits, the sculpture will be submerged under rainwater, alluding to the site’s original natural state.
Los Angeles State Historic Park (clockshop.org)
1245 North Spring Street, Chinatown, Los Angeles
January 15-April 2
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Hostile Terrain ‘94: The Undocumented Migration Project
In 1994, the United States Border Patrol initiated an approach to immigration enforcement called “Prevention Through Deterrence,” which pushed undocumented migrants away from well-traveled border crossings towards more remote, desolate areas. In the ensuing decades, thousands of migrants have died attempting the perilous journey through the desert. In 2009, UCLA Anthropology Professor Jason De León started the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP) to study border crossings and educate about migration issues through research and art. Hostile Terrain ‘94: The Undocumented Migration Project showcases the work of the UMP through photographic chronicles of migration, collections of objects left behind by those navigating the desert, and a recording studio where visitors can share their personal stories of immigration. The exhibition also features a 16-foot-long map of the Arizona-Mexico border, with tags bearing the names of those who lost their lives while crossing, marking the location where their bodies were found.
LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes (lapca.org)
501 North Main Street, Downtown, Los Angeles
Through July 9