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Matt Wedel
L.A. Louver Gallery, Venice, California
Recommendation by Michael Shaw

Matt Wedel, "Portrait," 2018, porcelain, 11 1/2 x 7 x 8 1/2". © Matt Wedel. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA

Continuing through January 5, 2019

The strongest work in Wedel’s latest offering of porcelain and stoneware sculpture, “Large fruit landscape,” is a hulking mass of splotchy blue and white coils and bands, cascading and wrapping around each other above a thick, equally splotchy base, like some kind of spaghetti Medusa. Though Greek iconography is potentially a reference point — the few large pastel drawings included in the show can  be read as Grecian heads — “Large fruit landscape” is far more non-objective than referential, the unwieldy sculpture bound up as much in the process of its own making as anything else. The piece lives in one of the back viewing rooms on the gallery’s 2nd floor; it’s unfortunate it’s not more prominently displayed; ask to see it. Two pieces both titled “Fruit landscape” occupy the main gallery, and both are “Large fruit landscape’s” lesser brethren; they include coils that are octopus-like, though their more modest scale, and (in one case) palette of pastel colors, puts them in a far more decorative, more strictly formal, category.

Indeed, eluding the decorative may be the greatest challenge in “Everything is everything,” the rather noncommittal title of Wedel’s exhibition. The main gallery has a mixture of large floor sculptures as well as several smaller works on a series of pedestals, and the pedestal pieces, a series of “Flower trees” and “Portraits,” tend to take on a bauble-like, ceramics-as-objects quality, especially in relation to the large works. One literally looks down on most of the “flower trees,” sort of missing out on their gloppy-paste-over-pebble-like-petals forms. One wall-hung “flower tree,” a cobalt blue wreath of hand-mashed petals, transcends the others simply through its location — above eye level. Back on the floor, the fruit of the cactus-like “Lemon tree” emerge from a hefty frieze, in which the lemons are so swollen with ripeness — their ‘nipples’ protruding, yes, like breasts ready to be milked — that its branches droop heavily ground-ward. It’s a moment, an experience, where “everything is everything” actually does start to feel apt; perhaps there’s something to the show’s title after all.  

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