If you’re in town for Los Angeles Art Week, be sure to save time in your schedule for visiting these top exhibitions, on view at art spaces around the city.
William Kentridge: “In Praise of Shadows”
November 12, 2022—April 9, 2023
The Broad debuts a wide-ranging survey of the artist William Kentridge alongside live performances, music, and special programming, currently on view through April 9. Titled, “William Kentridge: In Praise of Shadows,” the exhibition offers 35 years of compelling artworks, including sculptures, tapestries, theater sets, and drawings. Public programming central to the powerful themes of Kentridge’s practice—like racism, colonialism, and rising above hate—are presented throughout the show. Highlights include “When We Dream in Bittersweet Tongues” on February 4 and April 1, curated by poet and educator Shonda Buchanan, which gathers BIPOC poets and writers to tell their stories to the world; and “Moor Mother and Irreversible Entanglements” on April 1, featuring a performance by the poet, vocalist, and educator Moor Mother alongside free-jazz collective Irreversible.
Alison Saar: “Uproot”
January 25—March 11, 2023
L.A. Louver debuts new energetic artwork by Alison Saar in an exhibition titled “Uproot,” currently on view through March 11. In a powerful dedication to the fortitude of Black women, Saar journeys into the historical truths of Black womanhood within the realms of gender inequality and reproductive rights in the United States. In Mutiny of the Sable Venus (2022), the artist connects imagery of the Sable Venus, known as a heinous misrepresentation of the transatlantic slave trade, Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (1830), and the Yemaya water deity of reproductive health directly to her own sculpture work, reinventing the Sable Venus as a guarding, restorative symbol.
As a direct reaction to the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court, Saar imparts the history of African American herbalism and self-induced abortions by enslaved people through painted canvas sacks which were once used for harvesting cotton. In additional works, Saar both celebrates the virtues of Black hair while alluding to the straightening products that have been known to cause uterine cancer. Through fierce creativity and enlightenment, Saar pays tribute to the bravery of Black women against ever-evolving adversity.
George Condo: “People Art Strange”
Hauser & Wirth West Hollywood
February 15—April 22
Hauser & Wirth is inaugurating its new Los Angeles gallery in West Hollywood (a former vintage automobile sales room of 1930s Spanish Colonial Revival architecture) with an exhibition of George Condo entitled “People Are Strange”. Introducing new works, Condo’s latest abstractions—named for the song by The Doors—capture the essence of Los Angeles through compositions that are at once beautiful and ugly, solemn and euphoric, and connected and entropic. Through these signature strangeties, Condo portrays the human condition and the passing of time in a universal manner with which we can all connect.
Jim Shaw: “Thinking the Unthinkable”
January 12—February 15
Jim Shaw’s debut exhibition with Gagosian “Thinking the Unthinkable” features a suite of new paintings, on view at the gallery’s space in Beverly Hills. Titled in homage to Herman Kahn’s 1962 Thinking About the Unthinkable, a book about nuclear war, Shaw’s paintings exist in a realm of psychedelia that is laden with motifs and imagery related to the publication (mushroom clouds, the egg, the pillar, the alphabet, and the ocean) along with other references, which includes the figure of the goddess, the history of psychedelics, and the deconstruction of Hollywood legends. The resulting works include imagery like Cary Grant, in which a portrait of the actor takes on an eerie surrealism depicting further visions of himself and exploding rockets painted atop his own face, and a beach scene that incorporates imagery of a mushroom cloud and a reimagining of The Birth of Venus, which the artist has titled No Bikini Atoll. Accompanying Shaw’s paintings are a series of three-dimensional creations that includes works like an inflatable cloud printed with mustaches, floating from the gallery’s ceiling, and a canvas bearing a 3D rendering of a particular fungus-shaped cloud.
Anne Imhof: “EMO”
February 15—May 6
Sprüth Magers, Los Angeles presents a special solo exhibition by the artist Anne Imhof titled “EMO.” For her Los Angeles debut, Imhof experiments with sculpture, painting, and film in a surreal installation of coordinations and contradictions. In poetic layers of animal, nature, man, and machine, the artist pays respect to the historical spectacle that is L.A. On the gallery’s first floor, visitors will encounter a jungle of industrial water tanks radiating in crimson lights, playing with angst and expectation. Technicolor paintings alluding to live performances of the past and aluminum works offer mysterious, abstract gestures in blazing red and turquoise hues. The second floor presents a large-scale billboard and two new films. Youth (2022), created in Moscow, follows an array of horses reveling in the snow, set to Matthew Passion by J.S. Bach. In potent juxtaposition, the film evolves to spotlight a stark housing development within the city.
Harold Mendez: “A Sentence, or a spell”
Commonwealth & Council
January 21—Februrary 25
Commonwealth and Council presents its first solo show with the Los Angeles-based artist Harold Mendez, currently on view through February 25. “A sentence, or a spell” explores colonialism, capitalism, and diasporic migration in the Americas through multifaceted sculptures, drawings, and assemblage. In a meaningful and imaginative inquiry of the remnants of such historical narratives on mind and body, as well as in the everyday objects that fill our lives, Mendez offers utterly unique creations, abstract vessels with bone-like extremities, and shells of jagged spikes that were composed of materials like calf-weaning nose rings and funerary headrests. Cast in brass and iron, resembling burial artifacts, the artist probes into life and death across time and space. Central to the exhibition was Mendez’s journey in discovering the grave of the late Cuban artist Belkis Ayon. Though the location of the grave continues to be a mystery, the artist’s travels were of great self-discovery.
Jammie Holmes: “Somewhereinamerica”
Various Small Fires
February 14—March 11
A desire for belonging emanates from the paintings, sculptures, and watercolors of Jammie Holmes’s exhibition “Somewhereinamerica”. The artist’s first show at the Los Angeles art space Various Small Fires, Holmes’s personal memories and experiences as a Black American sit at the visual forefront of his works, intermingled with themes that may find many of his viewers relating to the imagery at hand, including ideas like class, community, tradition, resilience, as well as art historical references. In the compositions on view, humble domestic settings are juxtaposed with ideas of luxury and opulence, suggesting the complexities of finding one’s place in a landscape where these opposing worlds are possible. Visitors at the gallery can expect to find works with a dark, brooding palette of colors, like Lunch break and two cowries, depicting a flurry of hands engaging in a game of dice, a domestic scene called Picture that in 2022, and Not at this table, which features an uneasy interior landscape filled with emptied wine glasses, racially charged figurines, burning candles, and a statuesque figure in the nude.
Shannon Cartier Lucy: “Rubedo”
February 18—March 18
A show of new paintings, Shannon Cartier Lucy’s exhibition “Rubedo” is the artist’s first solo show at Night Gallery. Titled for the Latin word meaning “redness,” Lucy has selected the word for its history stretching far beyond the literal translation—after being used by alchemists to describe the color’s metamorphic capacity, the term was coined by Carl Jung as a descriptor for the point of psychological development in which one has come to the actualization of their “true self”. Marking a period of death and rebirth, the paintings making up the artist’s idea of “Rubedo” are intimate, beautiful, tense, and transformational compositions where the presence of the color red is at once subtle and omnipresent, even when there isn’t any red to be found. Evoking empowerment and self-examination through unusual and uncanny circumstances, viewers will find imagery like a close-cropped depiction of hands holding flames; a woman undressing nonchalantly with a flaming skirt; and a girl being fed sanguine bunches of goji berries from a mysterious ensemble of hands.
Amir H. Fallah: “Wars on Wars”
February 15—March 25
Opening February 15, Shulamit Nazarian debuts new sculptures and paintings by the Los Angeles-based artist Amir H. Fallah in a powerful exhibition, “War on Wars,” that speaks to identity and the immigrant experience. For the artist’s third solo show with the gallery, Fallah reflects on his childhood in Iran during the time of the Iran-Iraq war. In vibrant, geometric works that evoke emotional memory, the artist attests to the momentous effects of the geo-political landscape on mind, body, and soul. Within the exhibition are two ongoing series: “Veiled Portraits,” which reimagines classic portraiture with symbolic subjects, and “Vignette Paintings,” where images serve as narratives of personal wisdom and cautionary tales. Emerging from the work is a series of abstract, hand-painted, aluminum sculptures—figures open to interpretation and free of oppression. As an ongoing mission, Fallah supports human rights in Iran with a concurrent exhibition at the Fowler Museum at UCLA titled “The Fallacy of Borders, as well as the public project, “CHANT.”