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Rubén Ortiz Torres
Royale Projects, Los Angeles, California
Recommendation by Michael Shaw

Rubén Ortiz Torres, “Black Flag,” 2014, urethane and metajuls paint on corafoam and aluminum, four units, 72 x 24 x 6” each

Continuing through December 10, 2017

Rubén Ortiz Torres’ "White Washed America" gives Finish Fetish a decidedly 21st century makeover, albeit with not quite as much didacticism as the name of the show suggests. The piece that bears the exhibition title, from 2014, is a long horizontal ‘urethane and chromaluscent pearl’ painting featuring an atmospherically rendered Crucifixion scene placed at a Mayan temple, executed in soft, white-on-light-blue atmospherics with low-rider-car-culture gestural flourishes. Ironically, it comes across as too subtle, especially alongside the show’s clear mascot: "Black Flag," a riff on John McCracken’s Finish Fetish-smooth leaning planks, two of which are here paired with two wall-hung versions, to form the four vertical bars that make up the namesake iconic L.A. punk band’s logo.

In addition to injecting socio-political content, Torres’ execution raises McCracken’s aesthetic bar: these planks have a pearlescent sheen that allows them to vacillate between black and a deep, rich purple at various angles. Other highlights are two tricked-out shopping carts: one that’s extra-long, limo style, and another, "Shopper Hopper,” that has hydraulics attached to a remote that allows the controller to raise and lower either end of the cart, low-rider style, with satisfying air-hiss-producing motions. Most intriguing of all — certainly the most novel, at least — is "El Grito (The Scream)," a square, orange monochrome painted with ‘thermochromatic pigment,” which means that if you yell with enough intensity into the piece, a central area of the surface will temporarily fade to a haze of yellow amidst the orange. One couldn’t imagine a more suitable manifestation of Finish Fetish for the current era.

Royale Projects

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