Anthony Pearson: Casements | All Opposing Players | Ivan Morely

5130 W. Edgewood Pl. Los Angeles, CA 90019
Jul 22, 6 PM - 8 PM — ends Aug 27, 2022
David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to present Casements, an exhibition of new wall- and pedestal-based sculptures by Anthony Pearson, on view July 23 through August 27, 2022. An opening reception will take place on July 22 from 6 to 8 PM.

Anthony Pearson has developed a formal vocabulary informed by photography, painting, and sculpture. For more than twenty years, he has been producing an interrelated body of objects in which subtle evolutions of material, color, and mood elicit meditative looking and quietly immersive perceptual experiences. Recent groups of wall-based sculptures, which he calls Casements and Coupled Casements, are made by pouring pigmented Hydrocal cement into bunched sections of fabric; when the dry cement is removed, finished, and installed on the wall, its shapes and volumes evoke a wide range of geological and organic forms. Upright Casements, works produced in a similar way and installed on pedestals, reveal yet another dimension of these materials—as well as the forces of light and gravity that move and illuminate them.

A careful observer of ambient conditions and a Los Angeles native, Pearson is an artist who channels the spirit of the Light and Space movement. This exhibition, for instance, is a calibrated installation; individual works contribute to an overall composition where the play between luminosity, shadow, physical and visual weight, and the viewer’s eye and body unfolds with quiet intensity. Even when removed from an exhibition context and seen on their own, Pearson’s sculptures imbue their surroundings with a concentrated sense of repose and draw attention to the kinds of fleeting changes that make otherwise static architectural settings come alive.

The Casements, in particular, promote full-body engagement with space. Because they present as shallow relief forms, they read as both images and objects, and emphasize the eye’s status as a physical organ and a translator of ephemeral, light-based impressions. Light, in other words, is given a physical address both in the environment and in the human body. Pearson’s use of color enriches this dynamic even further. In some Casements, he focuses on a single color, as in dramatic all-black works whose complex tonal variations only become apparent upon close inspection. In others, he introduces gentle gradations of warmer or cooler tones, evoking not only the sky at different times of day but also the density, temperature, and feeling of air itself. The space between the object and the wall also becomes an active part of the work. As the viewer moves around it, and as shadows and modulated color shifts unfold throughout the day, the object appears to undergo changes in depth and even spatial orientation, as if hovering closer to or further away from the wall.

In all of these ways, Pearson brings together the earthy and the optical. The Casements’ surfaces read alternately as pure color and as textured accumulations of material. The various fabrics into which the Hydrocal is poured leave impressions, tiny filmaents, and striated patterns in the finished works, altering the way light and shadow play across them, as well as the ways in which their silhouettes alter impressions of their volumes. Such effects play a particularly important role in the Coupled and Upright Casements, whose forms are defined by biomoprhic curves, palpable relief, and, in the case of the Upright works, negative spaces that invite intimate viewing.

While Pearson has produced pedestal-based works, mostly in bronze at several points throughout his career, the Upright Casements represent the first time he has used Hyrdocal to make objects designed to be installed in open space rather than on the wall. Their ridges and recesses alternately evoke topographical features, animal fossils, or futuristic soft technologies, but like all of the works in this exhibition, they inevitably point back to the active, ultimately unpredictable processes Pearson employs to make them. Each is the result of a controlled pour of a liquid material that eventually hardens, as well as the arrangement of a soft and flexible fabric that leaves its mark on the hard material in more ways than one. Every phase of this choreography involves both movement and stillness: in Pearson’s body as he handles the materials, in the materials themselves as they are manipulated and then allowed to obey the laws of gravity, and in the innumerable acts of perception that register how the object reflects and absorbs the world around it.

Anthony Pearson (b. 1969, Los Angeles) has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis (2012) and Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (2008). Institutional group exhibitions include Variations: Conversations in and Around Abstract Painting, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2014); second nature: abstract photography then and now, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts (2012); and The Anxiety of Photography, Aspen Art Museum, Colorado; and Arthouse at the Jones Center, Austin, Texas (2011). His work is in the permanent collections of institutions including the Art Institute of Chicago; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, California; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. In 2019, a comprehensive monograph dedicated to Pearson’s multifaceted work was published by Inventory Press. Pearson lives and works in Los Angeles.
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David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to present All Opposing Players, a group exhibition curated by The Racial Imaginary Institute, featuring works by Lotte Andersen, Ed Fornieles, and Shaun Leonardo. The exhibition will be on view July 23 through August 27, 2022. An opening reception will take place from 6 – 8 PM on Friday, July 22. As part of the exhibition, on Saturday, July 23 at 11 AM, Leonardo will present a live workshop that incorporates audience participation to investigate how platforms of discussion may be rethought and possibly reinvented.

All Opposing Players explores the complex phenomenon of nationalism in the work of Andersen, Fornieles, and Leonardo, who utilize game-playing to explore the dangerous and the utopian potential of the “we.” The artists’ objects, videos, and performances address these concerns on a variety of scales, ranging from the deeply personal to the outwardly global, sometimes in challenging and contradictory ways. This project is situated within The Racial Imaginary Institute’s (TRII) wider research into nationalism, and poses questions such as: How much should we invest in ideas of the “we”? And how can we reimagine nation, tribe, and community?

Founded in 2016 by the author Claudia Rankine, The Racial Imaginary Institute seeks to change the way we imagine race in the United States and internationally by lifting up and connecting the work of artists, writers, knowledge producers, and activists with audiences seeking thoughtful, innovative conversations and experiences. The members of TRII believe that “the work of defining and changing culture is all of ours.” Institute members curating this exhibition include Makayla Bailey, Samantha Ozer, and Simon Wu.

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Text by The Racial Imaginary Institute

In times of crisis such as the present, imagining a new future can often seem impossible. Yet, it is often the most vital thing for survival. At the intersection of a global pandemic, an ongoing war in Europe, a continued global refugee crisis, and rising race-based violence, what strategies do we have for future thinking? If each epoch marks a different experience in human behavior, can we play out past scenarios to craft a new future?

While many exercises in future thinking are often idealistic and imagine a new world divorced from our current one, Andersen, Fornieles, and Leonardo work from an understanding that there is inherent violence in world-building. Here, childhood games—such as role-play, sports, puzzles, and nursery rhymes—are used as devices to push and pull at existing social tensions. Andersen, Fornieles, and Leonardo work both in and outside of the gallery, through workshops, LARP (live action role-play), and personal histories. Games are imaginary situations with real-world consequences. As audience members, we are invited to test out their parameters for ourselves, to play games by their rules.

In a series of large-scale puzzles, Andersen mixes images from personal family archives with popular culture references and symbols from wars that have been cemented in art history, such as Paolo Uccello’s triptych, The Battle of San Romano (c. 1435–1460), to explore the experience of a fight from three perspectives—the individual, the interpersonal, and the societal. By embodying these relations in the form of a puzzle—a form that can be rearranged—she suggests that history is malleable and multiplicitous. Andersen has also produced three scaled-down puzzles that visitors are invited to play with. A puzzle has the potential to serve as a weapon or a de-escalation tactic, a competition or a meditative moment to collaborate: Who will complete the puzzle first? Who will work together? Who will be able to piece it back together? And who will decide to abandon the rules and make their own image with the pieces?

For Andersen, a puzzle also serves as a device to reflect on the pressures of her mixed-race heritage and feelings of fragmentation as well as the power inherent in many pieces composing a nuanced whole. Her collages continue upon this work by layering family photos with news clippings focusing on the British monarchy. These works ask how history informs our present moment; specifically, the cultural symbols and icons that normalize past narratives of identity, power, oppression, and privilege. How have these symbols shifted over time, and what is their role today? In Chaos Has No Morality (2022), a three-channel audio installation comprising three vintage radios, Andersen and a team of collaborators make a proposal for a deconstructed anthem, an adaptation of the counting rhyme Ten Little Injuns, formerly Ten Little Indians, and a take on a music box. The installation draws upon the violence and racism embedded in most children’s nursery rhymes, the history of national anthems, and the hypnotic quality of a musical hook.

Adapting his ongoing work with live action role-plays (known as “LARPS”), Fornieles presents a proposal for a “world incubator” through a series of new paintings. Referencing the compositions of art historically significant paintings by artists such as Hieronymus Bosch, Lygia Clark, Philip Guston, Hilma af Klint, and Kazimir Malevich, but in the style of a Microsoft PowerPoint pitch deck, Fornieles argues that LARPing is “an autonomous zone in which narratives, behavior, and habits might be rethought.” Created in consultation with Nina Runa Essendrop, a leading figure in the Nordic-style LARPing community, the paintings explain how the money garnered from their sale will go towards future LARPing ventures, as well as assist with forming a think tank for researching how LARPing could be used in a real-world setting.

Fornieles’s videos Cel (2019) and Cel-Debrief (2018)—exhibited for the first time in the United States in this exhibition—explore the ideologies that undergird aggressive expressions of masculinity and suggest a framework for their dismantling. Fornieles worked with Essendrop to develop a structure for a 72-hour immersive role-play performance in which ten participants navigate a fictional, embodied simulation of an extremist online community, largely populated by white men. (The first stage of Cel is governed by the rule, “You must always have someone lower than yourself.”) The group trained for weeks before entering the simulation and employed LARP techniques to ensure their well-being throughout the process. In Cel-Debrief, participants are filmed as they reflect on the experience, noting their unsettling identification with their characters and the slippages between reality and a gamified situation. Cel is a challenging work that speaks directly to the rise of white nationalism and offers emotional and relational procedures to dismantle it from within.

Adapting his 2018 work Primitive Games, Leonardo translates his performance practice into a participatory installation. Here, he offers a series of textual prompts to invite us to consider how we process and embody both physical space and our bodily memories. The lines—iterated by participants from the original performance-based workshops—encourage visitors, once internalized, to inhabit subtle movements and gestures. These movements and gestures convey the presence of violence—drawing awareness to experiences that can’t be articulated as much as felt. By unlocking these physical narratives, Leonardo offers an opportunity to reflect on the ways we perceive ourselves and engage with others.

On the opening day of All Opposing Players, Leonardo will stage a live workshop to investigate how platforms of discussion may be rethought and possibly reinvented. In the workshop, perceived opposition in our politics and lived experiences is foregrounded. Using somatic performance, participants are asked to track experiences of conflict in their bodies, becoming more attuned to the ways in which they both consciously and subconsciously activate in the face of confrontation. Whether learned or innate, these movements and sensations—our “choreographies”—tell us where experiences of conflict are lodged in our bodies, and therefore, show us the places from which we react when perceiving an “other” as different, or worse, as an enemy. By becoming more aware of how we carry feelings of fear, danger, abandonment, and anger, we might be able to detect them in those we consider our opponents.

Lotte Andersen is a British artist working with constructed social interactions, scanned ephemera, sound, video, and sculpture to produce installations. Her work forms an investigation into group dynamics, movement within varied contexts, and the manipulation of nostalgia, trauma, euphoria, and release. Oscillating between investigative, documentary, participatory, and autobiographical modes, Andersen’s work invites the viewer to activate it while dealing with the implications of their presence within it. Andersen has presented work at La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2022); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2019); and Hyundai Card Storage Foundation, Seoul, Korea (2019).

Ed Fornieles uses film, social media platforms, sculpture, installation, and performance to express the interaction of family, relationships, popular memes, language, and the subcultures of the twenty-first century. His work operates within immersive simulations, which construct and enact alternative political and social spaces. His projects often involve cultural, social, and infrastructural production. Fornieles has presented work at Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (2018); Chisenhale Gallery, London (2014); and Serpentine Gallery, London (2012).

Shaun Leonardo’s multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood—namely, definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities—along with its notions of achievement, collective identity, and experiences of failure. His performance practice, anchored by his work in Assembly, a diversion program for court-involved youth at the Brooklyn-based nonprofit Recess, is participatory and invested in a process of embodiment. Leonardo has presented work at MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts (2021); New Museum, New York (2019); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2018); and The High Line, New York (2017).
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David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Ivan Morley, on view from July 23 through August 27, 2022. An opening reception will be held on Friday, July 22 from 6 until 8 PM.

Ivan Morley combines virtuosic craftsmanship, a committed sense of place, and deep knowledge of the discipline of painting to create works that take on the medium’s major narratives even as they glorify its minor pathways. For twenty-five years, he has made works that challenge expectations about how paintings should be made and what they should depict. He has long employed seemingly “lower” techniques and materials, such as the embroidery that is the focus of this exhibition; at the same time, he is the author of a strange but immediately recognizable set of images and stylistic modes.

Drawing upon the conventions of the still life genre, Morley’s new paintings were made directly from his observation of constructed props and other objects in his studio, including a sawhorse, a backdrop made of triangular shapes, and a length of chain. Whereas Morley’s earlier works possessed a narrative sensibility influenced by his interest in vernacular source material—often related to anecdotal social histories of California—the paintings in this exhibition are primarily concerned with sensory perception. In previous paintings, as the art historian John C. Welchman has described, Morley “[inverted] and [modified] the rhetorical device of ekphrasis,” creating “a drift of sensations… that flow from text to image, rather than the other way around.” Just as these earlier works reversed the orientation of the ekphrastic exercise—taking up an artistic tradition while also subverting it—Morley’s new paintings position themselves as still lifes even as his integration of multiple techniques in their making interrogates such standardized classifications.

Throughout the works in the show, Morley combines thread, ink, and watercolor on canvas, creating multifaceted visual surfaces that contain a polyphonic range of textures, colors, and images. In some portions of the paintings, particularly those rendered in ink, he invokes something akin to the draftsmanship of an illustrator. Imagistic vignettes unwind from each other against a patchwork, quilt-like background rendered in pastel hues, occasionally marked by Xs or question marks. In Tehachepi (sic), A True Tale (2022), the image of a hanging chain dominates the center-right portion of the painting, subtly aligning its composition with the oblong, rectangular shape of the canvas. With its motley appearance, the painting continuously modulates between artistic modes that are often considered contradictory, simultaneously shifting across large-scale abstract painting, embroidery, and drawing.

Morley’s embroidery-based process is explicitly indicated by formal elements visible in the final works, specifically in notations such as “STOP,” “GOOD SIDE,” and “NO.” These elements are derived from the artist’s notes to himself, operating as a form of drawing that places them slightly adjacent to painterly gesture or expression in the traditional sense. Before embroidering the canvas, Morley uses ink and watercolors as tools to determine what will be sewn, and these underdrawings often bleed through the embroidered surface of the completed painting, suggesting the porousness of both material and time. Embroidery also creates a “leave everything in” ethos because of the relative inflexibility of the process, which involves the use of a sixteen-inch-wide hoop to create a continuous series of images unfolding across a surface. Taking such process-derived, limitation-based factors as guiding frameworks for his practice connects Morley’s paintings to histories of structuralism; in some cases, a patch of color stops where it does simply because the spool of thread was finished.

The artist’s use of thread and embroidery should not be misread, however, as being related to the subversion of gendered associations with sewing or the expression of a position on domestic “craft.” On the contrary, the tactility of the thread materializes a sense of texture and grunginess much more indebted to punk visual culture, collage, and the striated, glitched images of Xerox art. Defined by fractured compositions layered with visual information and residue, Morley’s latest paintings pulsate with their own mysterious inner vitality, one that calls to be observed not only visually but across all senses and planes of perception.

Ivan Morley (b. 1966, Burbank, California) has been the subject of solo exhibitions at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles (2018); Bortolami Gallery, New York (2021 and 2016); and Kimmerich Galerie, Berlin (2014). Group exhibitions include Abstract America Today, Saatchi Gallery, London (2014); Painting Expanded, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York (2011); The Artist’s Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2010); DAS GESPINST, Die Sammlung Schürmann zu Besuch im Museum Abteiberg, Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany (2009); Imagination Becomes Reality, Part IV: Borrowed Images, Sammlung Goetz, Munich (2006); and Painting in Tongues, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2006). His work is in the permanent collections of K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and University Museum of Contemporary Art at the Fine Arts Center, University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 2020, the first comprehensive monograph dedicated to Morley was published by David Kordansky Gallery and Bortolami Gallery. Morley lives and works in Los Angeles.