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Nine Lives
Visionary Artists from L.A., at the Hammer Museum, West Los Angeles, California
Recommendation by Betty Ann Brown

Llyn Foulkes, 'The Lost Frontier,' 1997-2005, mixed media, 87 x 96 x 8'.

The title of this fifth biannual invitational exhibition is “Nine Lives: Visionary Artists from L.A.” and indeed, many of the artists create work that embodies fanciful speculations, transcends the physical world, and portrays a wider vision of awareness. The exhibition opens with Llyn Foulkes' 'The Lost Frontier': a blackened room appears to open to a magical landscape that hovers somewhere between prehistory and a smog-crowned present-day Los Angeles. Inhabited by a rifle-toting pioneer woman with a Mickey Mouse head, a cave man, and a dessicated cadaver of what may be a horse, Foulkes’ neverland enchants viewers and draws us into fantasy. The installation functions as an engaging preface to the dozen or so additional Foulkes paintings in the next room, all of which resonate with his characteristic mix of absurd humor and imaginative distress. A few rooms away, Jeffrey Valance’s wall of kitsch and Kaari Upson’s Playboy Mansion-like grotto strike similarly visionary chords. Victoria Reynolds’ exquisite paintings of eviscerated flesh in frames are both Surrealist and Rococo. They exert a hypnotically seductive attraction, yet quite repulsive--in the best sense. Few of the other works here, however interesting, are well described as “visionary.'

Published courtesy of ArtScene

Hammer Museum at UCLA

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