Jon Pylypchuk: I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again | Louise Bonnet: Vagabond | Polly Borland: Nudie

1107 Greenacre Ave Los Angeles, CA 90046
May 15, 3 PM - 9 PM — ends Jun 19, 2021
JON PYLYPCHUK
I Know I'll Never Love this Way Again
May 15 - June 19, 2021
(pictured)

Nino Mier Gallery is pleased to announce I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again an exhibition of new sculptures by Canada-born, Los Angeles based artist Jon Pylypchuk, opening May 15th and on view until June. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, May 15th from 3 – 9pm.

In recent years, Jon Pylypchuk’s multidisciplinary practice has focused on the making of and use of bronze. For Jon, the medium offers a mode of non-directed experimentation. The artist controls the aging process of his sculptures through the use of different patinas that effect color and finish, making his works appear older and weathered after only having recently been cast.

While the artist’s use of bronze may be new, Pylypchuk continues to use his sculptures as a way to explore the frailty of human existence and social relationships. Through anthropomorphism, he creates characters that seems to have lost their way, appearing in a wounded condition, harmed by themselves or by others. The combination of cynicism, anger and sadness imbue his installations and sculpture with a sense of survivalist humor.

I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again is an exhibition of ten bronze cigarettes all languishing in various poses throughout the gallery. The cigarette motif is not new to Pylypchuk’s work, but whereas before Pylypchuk’s cigarettes were made of found materials, reinterpreting the bricolage of the Art Brut tradition, their reincarnations are now solely in bronze. These new cigarettes are metaphoric for change – the intention to change and longing to return to a flawed normal. Pylypchuk's cigarettes remind viewers of our false perceptions of control—a fact that has only become more poignant after a year of the pandemic—and of how strongly we might long for those things which we know we shouldn’t, and which ultimately impede our flourishing.

One can’t help but feel a kinship with the exercising cigarette “Untitled, I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again (situps)” whose body is scrunched into an impossible U shape – his aspirations of a better body seemingly far away against the reddish rust of his bottom half. The weakness of will that Pylypchuk seems to be targeting has its auspices in Greek philosophy, for wasn’t it Socrates who said that “No one who either knows or believes that there is another possible course of action, better than the one he is following, will ever continue on its present course.” A particularly depressing inevitably given the varying cigarettes perceived endeavors to be better.

Smoking is the perfect metaphor for sin, which is a moral version of the means by which our conscious and publicly expressed desires are frequently sabotaged by another part of ourselves whose power we give insufficient credit to.

Since 1998, Jon Pylypchuk continues to be an indelible figure of the Los Angeles art community--as a fixture of the 2000’s Chinatown art scene, a leader in the 2010’s DTLA art scene, and an artist that embodies the independent and maverick spirit of Los Angeles. He maintains a studio in Altadena, however all work of the last year was produced in his backyard, in his underwear.

Jon Pylypchuk’s works are in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Saatchi Collection, London; the Museum of Old and New Art, Berriedale; the Whitney Museum, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit and the Albright–Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo.

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LOUISE BONNET
Vagabond
May 15 - June 9, 2021

Louise Bonnet’s third solo exhibition at Nino Mier Gallery convenes seven oil paintings, all completed one year into pandemic-induced quarantine. While these conditions have been marked by a sense of social isolation and attendant alienation for some, for others they have brought a surfeit of familial physical proximity and a concomitant dearth
of mental space, privacy, and restorative solitude. Fittingly for a group of works premiered on the precipice of the world’s tentative reopening, these paintings are inspired in part by a film about an uninhibited wanderer: Agnès Varda’s iconic Vagabond (1985).

The film offers a portrait of an enigmatic drifter named Mona who freely traverses the French countryside guided
by her own intuition. Especially compelling for Bonnet is the way in which Varda allows the protagonist to maintain the privacy of her own interiority throughout the film; though the audience is permitted glimpses into her life on the road, Mona’s motivations, emotions, and personal history remain opaque. Through the use of elliptical editing, Varda strings together a series of discontinuous vignettes that inhibit the viewer from gaining a foothold in Mona’s narrative or accessing her interior life. Following a similar strategy, Bonnet presents here a group of distinct yet thematically connected scenes that collectively grapple with a woman’s oft-thwarted longing to be alone with her thoughts—her desire to remain inscrutable and inaccessible in a world that expects women to be available and accommodating.

Set in cramped interior spaces, TitleTK[woman in white dress] (2021) and TitleTK[woman in brown dress] (2021) each feature a large figure clasping her hands together in a tight, tense gesture that is a performance of self-control. Like
a clenched jaw, this gesture belies a concerted effort to maintain composure, to exhibit restraint under psychological strife. In both works, two small creatures float on the periphery like sentries, simultaneously guarding the figure they flank and staking a claim to her. An impish presence, these childlike nymphs hover within the protagonist’s psychic space, making demands on her attention.

In a departure for Bonnet, several of the compositions are sited in expansive outdoor spaces. In TitleTK[pond]
(2021), four headless figures submerge their limbs in an inky indigo pond. A group of escapist bathers detached from overthinking brains, they release their bodies to the water. In TitleTK[looking to sea] (2021), a figure viewed from behind faces out from a grassy bank toward the open sea, the very picture of contemplative reverie. She remains tethered to land by the hand of a companion that holds her back, a reminder of social and filial responsibilities. TitleTk[In the woods] (2021) presents the exhibition’s most fraught scene, one characterized by vulnerability and violation. In a dark clearing in the woods, an aggressor physically overpowers a recumbent figure who retaliates in self-defense. This scene, which gestures obliquely to a sexual assault in Vagabond, expresses both intimacy and intrusion, trust and transgression, and explores one of the central thematics of Bonnet’s oeuvre: the sense of losing control and trying to gain it back.

The figures in these paintings are characteristically lumpen and rubbery, activated by scale shifts and outfitted
with outsized appendages. With flesh like putty—stretched and wrung, contorted and constrained—the bodies are expressive of their mental states. Bonnet’s signature helmets of blond hair anonymize the figures and protect them from the viewer’s gaze, which in turn allows for voyeurism without shame. In contrast to some of the artist’s earlier works featuring bodies that flop and flail and leak and drip, the works in [title of show TK] are more restrained. Like Varda’s film, they observe without dramatizing. Indeed, a shared ethos undoubtedly joins Varda’s film and Bonnet’s paintings, one guided by dignity and care for their subjects—empathy for their pain and respect for their privacy.

-Text by Susan Thompson

Louise Bonnet (b. 1970 in Geneva, Switzerland; lives and works in Los Angeles) has been exhibited in recent solo exhibitions at Gagosian Gallery, New York, Galerie Max Hetzler, London and Berlin; and Half Gallery, New York. Bonnet’s work has also been included in group exhibitions at Almine Rech Gallery, New York; Anton Kern Gallery, New York; and König Galerie, Berlin. Her work is represented in the permanent collections of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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POLLY BORLAND
Nudie
May 15 - June 19, 2021

Nino Mier Gallery presents Nudie, a solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Polly Borland presented in the newly inaugurated Gallery 3, on view from May 15 - June 19, 2021 at 7327 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood.

After a long career of photographing others, world renown Australian photographer Polly Borland has, for the first time, turned the camera lens on herself for this striking series. Borland gained global notoriety in the 1990s for her editorial portraits of prominent cultural figures, capturing moments of unique vulnerability beneath the steely veneers of oft-photographed politicians, rocks stars and the like. By equal measure, her early artistic investigations expanded into figures who had never before been photographed, capturing the dark seedy underbelly of underground communities, like her Babies: photographs of infantilist fetishists who existed in a pre-internet anonymity. With her latest exploration with the Nudie series, Borland unveils these immensely personal self-portraits and boldly demonstrates the same vulnerability she notoriously elicited out of her past portraiture. Borland explains, “I think of my camera like a microscope, regarding my sitters closely. On a good day, it is more like an x-ray machine being able to penetrate below the surface. At its best, portrait photography is psychologically revealing."

For Nudie, Borland challenges social media ‘selfie’ tropes and the widespread culture of self-worship and self-image curation through presenting contorted, grotesque oversized nudes taken with this era’s most popular tool: an iPhone camera. Her large scale, confrontational photographic prints amplify the sculptural nature of her aging body with tightly cropped frames that are surreal or even landscape-like in their abstraction. The artist twists, kneads, flips and folds her body, handling her flesh like a malleable material while also steering her iPhone camera with a selfie stick or pressing herself against mirrors. The sculptural handling of her own body revealed in such a provocative way culminates a decades-long photographic investigation of publicly and privately curated personas built on the physical and digital manipulation of body, power, sex and ego.

Borland also concedes that ironically, such revealing work may not have been possible for her to take on at a younger age. With age she has gained the wisdom and maturity to care less about vanity, what value might be assigned to her body or the judgments about her choice to pose nude at all. Borland explains further, “The selfie work is confronting my aging body. They are nudes basically, so I decided to use my iPhone and do what everyone else is doing but not beautifying or hiding anything. It’s about the body’s decay as one grows older,” she says, “also, it was time for me to do to myself what I did to others.”

The subversion of the male gaze to surreal, punkish or ghoulish consequence has always been present in Borland's photography. She disrupts traditionally alluring images and subjects, intensifies them, repositions them and essentially turns them on their head through specific staging. This is exemplified with her past Bunny series where she inverted the soft, seductive pin-up type with an aggressive, confrontational, and physically dominating model in bizarre rabbit garb, amplifying the absurdity of sexualizing women by dressing them as small animals. Playboy bunnies are certainly a continuation of classic, historical depictions of the female nude, which tend to be demure, reclining in a docile manner with smooth, glowing skin and unblemished features.

Borland’s huge images for Nudie revels in the wrinkles, varicose veins, layers of loose skin, body fat and other authentic depictions of women's bodies.

Furthermore, in Nudie (1), where she plunges her fist into her breast, her body is physically handled in such a way that subverts the female form into an object - but not for male consumption. Her breast is not delicately cupped or lifted – it is kneaded like clay in an almost violent or absurdist gesture. These images do not exist to elicit sexual desire, but rather, confront the underlying violence present in the systems of control in historic image making that govern set gender roles and sexuality. Nudie forces upon us the unyielding truth that remains behind our highly constructed and filtered social and digital realm.

Borland often cites Hans Bellmer, Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley as her biggest influences – all who play with a combination of the abject disgust, dark humor and a strangely seductive, aesthetic violence. Recalling Bellmer's disturbing images of doll parts reassembled as the Surrealist 'Exquisite Corpse', Borland's body seems rearranged, disjointed or reordered in Nudie, as features like elbows and knees get convoluted with breasts hanging upside down. Like the skin pressed against glass in the photographic work of Jenny Saville, Borland shows the drooping breast and loose skin so close to the picture plane, the shapes become abstractions, like stalactites in a Yves Tanguy landscape. Like the work of these influential artists, from the Surrealists to her contemporaries like Sarah Lucas or even Lucien Freud, Borland’s enigmatic tableaux invite new considerations of underlying cultural contradictions. Borland’s choice to display her own ageing body, a taboo reserved to shock in popular media, is entrenched in her reversal of the ubiquitous exercise of highly curated, posed and ‘filtered’ nudes and self-portrait exchanges in youth culture. For all her brutal honesty, she chooses to exclude her face, perhaps referencing the anonymity of modern relationships played out online, but also making the resulting images all the more inhuman and surreal.

Polly Borland lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Borland’s formal art practice has led her to exhibit worldwide, especially in Australia, the UK, Europe and across the United States, including the major exhibition Pollyverse at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne in 2018. Borland’s career as a photographer and visual artist has spanned over three decades, covering a myriad of subjects, and has shown internationally at institutions including National Portrait Gallery, London; University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane; National Portrait Gallery, Canberra; and Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane. Her work is in public and private collections including The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, National Portrait Gallery, London; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and Damien Hirst’s Murderme Collection