L.A. Louver presents Reflections of the Flowerbank World by Tom Wudl & Slough by Alison Saar
Opening Saturday, September 7th 6 – 8 PM during art weekend LA.
Show Runs Through: September 3rd – October 5th, 2013
Tom Wudl – Reflections of the Flowerbank World
LA. Louver is pleased to present an exhibition of recent paintings on linen and vellum by Los Angeles-based artist Tom Wudl.
Created with acrylic, oil and gold paint, gouache, pencil and gold leaf. Wudl’s new work is inspired by the Avatamsalta Sutra (or Flower Ornament Sutra), the revered scripture of Huayan Buddhism. The sutra describes an interdependency of all phenomena within a cosmos of infinite realms. Written in language that evokes sublime imagery, it seeks to create a path to enlightenment through exalted experiences of imagination and reality. The sutra has inspired Wudl over the past decade, infusing the work he presented in two previous exhibitions at LA. Louver: specimens from the flowerbank world, in 2009, and immensities and infinities,in 2011. In this new exhibition, titled Reflections of the Flowerbank World, Wudl further explores the rich content of the sutra. To create some of his most intricate and complex paintings to date.
An exquisite flower is depicted at the heart of several of Wudl’s compositions. In Blossom Inexhaustible Kindness, 2013 the petals of a flower are articulated with complex crosshatching. and edged in red and gold, while in Mandala of Lilberation, 2012 a gold rose is surrounded by a rich array of sparkling. multi-faceted jewels that emanate from a sky-blue ground. A rose also dominates the composition of Unattached, Unbound, Liberated Kindness, 2013 in which each petal of the blossoming flower is weighted with a rich array of colored jewels. Offset against a dark ground, the rose is surrounded by floating flowers and forms created with gouache. gold paint and gold leaf. Unattached, Unbound, Liberated Kindness, is the largest painting in the exhibition. and took over four years to complete.
A club motif, often miniscule in scale, is pervasive in the majority of Wudl’s compositions. He paints the motif in dense arrangement, and in low contrast to its background. This makes the clubs barely discernable to the eye. and there are passages in several works where they seem to fuse together and become a shimmering backdrop. In Net of Light of Supreem Wisdom, 2013. Wudl brings the club to center stage, depicting it within a lavish world of geometric forms that bring to mind a precious Renaissance Illumination. For Wudl. the club represents the elaborate descriptions of phenomena that are characteristic of the Avatamsaka Sutra’s literary style, and its repetition reflects the sutras primary purpose as an exhortation to meditation.
Tom Wudl immigrated to the United States from Cochabamba, Bolivia in 1958. Beginning life in a new country at age ten. Wudl already knew he wanted to become a painter. He attended Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, but gained most of his skills and insight through his independent study of late Medieval and early Renaissance paintings. and travel to the art centers of Europe. Wudl has balanced his painting with along career teaching art. He has held positions at Art Center College ofDesign. Pasadena; UCLA; UC Irvine; UC Santa Barbara; Claremont College; and Otis College of Art and Design, in addition to an extensive private teaching practice.
Wudl has exhibited his work in museums and galleries thoughout the United States and abroad, including Documenta V, Kassel (1972); Sezon Museum of Art, Tokyo, and Nagoya City Museum in Japan; the Whitney’ Museum of American Art. New York; San Francisco Museum of Art; Pasadena Art Museum; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. LA. Louver has represented Tom Wudl since 1980.
Concurrent to his exhibition at LA. Louver. Wudl’s work is featured in the exhibition Tapping the Third Realm, organized by the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design and the Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles. This exhibition. which highlights the work of artists who deal with ideas of spirituality. is on view September 22 – December 8. 2013. Gallery info: www.otis.edu/benmaltzgallery (310.665.6905) and http://cfa.lmu.edu/labandgallery (310.338.2880)
Alison Saar – Slough
LA. Louver is pleased to present an exhibition of new sculptures and drawings by Los Angeles-based artist Alison Saar. Through a complex and masterful use of evocative materials, themes of racial struggle. cultural identity and the changing roles of motherhood converge in this new body of work, all of which was created in 2013.
The title for the exhibition Slough, is defined as “a situation characterized by lack of progress,” or ‘to cast off or shed dead skin.” It is this duality of meaning. and :1 sense of both impasse and renewal. that pervades the 15 new works in the exhibition. In Shorn, a female figure carved from wood and painted red shaves her hair using a shard of glass, leaving behind a bare trace of stubble. The cut hair cascades from the figure’s hand, entwining her legs and feet. This dramatic removal can be interpreted as a rite of passage. or a cathartic act of mourning. In Pret-a-Porter, two found suitcases rest on the floor; one is left slightly ajar to reveal the uninhabited skin of a female figure. formed from translucent paper. Folded and loosely packed. it’s unclear whether the skin has recently been shed or is waiting to be donned.
Pearly pays homage to Mademoiselle LaLa, the Black Victorian acrobat made famous for her extraordinary athleticism. In a death-defying act, the dark pearlescent figure (made from paper and foam and burnished with graphite) hangs by her teeth tightly clenched to fabric suspended from the gallery ceiling.
The sculpture celebrates her strength. while placing her vulnerability on display. The largest work in the exhibition. Thistle and Twitch (Mombie), depicts a larger-than-life female figure towering nearly 8 feet (2.4 m) tall, formed by built-up layers of thin paper. with painted barren briars veining beneath the skin’s surface. Massive in scale, yet delicately constructed. the viewer is invited to peer inside her navel to find the hollow form filled with a thicket of brambles. Captured in a transitory state, the figure appears to be exiting a stage of fertility. or rather, experiencing a rejuvenation of new growth following a period of dormancy. The title of this work borrows from Ovid’s Metamorphases and the mythological tale of Demeter (the goddess of harvest) who is overcome with grief when her daughter Persephone (the goddess of spring) was abducted by Hades and held captive in the underworld.
“The stars and the winds assailed them; hungry birds gobbled the scattered seeds; thistles and twitch, unconquerable twitch, wore down the wheat.” – Ovid’s Metamorphases
Greek mythology is also referenced in Cotton Eater, which alludes to the lotus-eaters, characterized in Homer’s Odyssey as a race of people entranced in a perpetual state of apathy from the consumption of lotus fruit. The sculpture portrays a small wooden figure set atop a pedestal, feeding on cotton balls; its rounded belly visually full. An elongated cotton picking sack, filled to the brim from harvest, is slung over her shoulder and extends beyond her small frame and down to the floor. The piece relates to the history of slavery, and the continued government practice of appeasing the poor with insidious gifts. The imagery in this sculpture was first realized in Cotton Eater Study (sugar sack shroud series) measuring 81 x 37 in. (205.7 x 94 cm) rendered with charcoal and graphite on found cotton sugar sacks. This and other drawings on cotton panels from the sugar sack shroud series are on view in the exhibition, including Backwater Blues which Saar created in New Orleans during her fellowship at the Joan Mitchell Foundation in April 2013. Dismayed by the lack of progress following the tragedy of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Backwater Blues illustrates a woman clothed in a sheer slip gazing back as water rises above her ankles. Framed by a found screen door. the drawing sheds light on the media’s voyeuristic coverage of the devastation following the hurricane. where footage of victims often disheveled and undressed, were broadcast without any regard for their dignity. In another work created in New Orleans, Morass, a severed head formed from molded glass lays on its side soiled and lifeless, bearing the watermark of floodwaters.
The exhibition will also feature an installation of Saar’s sculptures Summer and Spring (both commissioned by the Madison Square Park Conservancy in 2011) in the gallery’s open-air Skyroom, including a garden installation courtesy of Rolling Greens Nursery, Los Angeles.
Alison Saar was born and raised in Laurel Canyon. California. Growing up the daughter of renowned artist Betye Saar and painter/conservator Richard Saar. played a crucial role informing her formative years. as well as the development of her artistic career. Saar received her B.A. in studio art and art history in 1978 from Scripps College, Claremont. California. She went on to earn her MFA from Otis- Parsons Institute (now Otis College of Art and Design). She has received three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1984, 1985 and 1988), and was awarded the john Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1989, the Flintridge Foundation Award for Visual Artists in 2000. and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Artist Fellowship in 2013. In 2012. the United States Artists Program named Saar one of 50 USA Fellows.
Simultaneous to the artist’s exhibition at L.A. Louver. Alison Saar: STILL… is on view at the David C. Driskell Centre. University of Maryland. [2 September – 13 December 2013 (travelled from the Ben Malt: Gallery. Otis College of Art and Design. Los Angeles, August – October 2012; and the Figge Art Museum. Davenport, Iowa, February – April 2013).
Alison Saar will be in conversation with Polly Nooter Roberts (Consulting Curator for African Art at the Los Angcles County Museum of Art). as part of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ ALOUD series: Body as Politics: Art, Identity and Memory on Tuesday, 24 September 2013. 7:15pm at the Mark Taper Auditorium – Central Library. (reservations are recommended). More info at www.lfla.org/aloud.