Tuesday, January 28, 2014

LA Art Show 2014

For all the hype it got, LA Art Show 2014 didn't deliver. In a sea of galleries (well over 100), there was little cutting-edge artwork, and attempts to be inventive missed the mark. Little "new media" was to be found, a curious omission considering the show's contemporary bent.

One expectation it lived up to was the prevalence of Asian art. The "Hues of China" segment showed an impressive selection of artists with creativity and technical finesse. Asian artists, as a friend pointed out, tend to show verve these days, in large part due to the new freedoms of expression granted them. The following three Chinese artists, all considered emerging, show the promise of an increasingly fresh and outspoken environment.

Wang Zhangtao, Hubei Institute of Fine Art, shows a commanding use of line. In Existence he maps out a network of sinuous lines that, in all its restrained but chaotic intricacy and unfamiliarity, signal the map of another dimension.

Existence (detail)

Li Huan makes ghostly woodblock prints with photography as her springboard. Wedding (2012) reveals a vacant dress, the body it once adorned absent. The image calls to mind the trope of the empty chair-- freshly abandoned, the spirit of its sitter strongly present.

The crisp line and color of Wang Yuanyuan's woodblock prints Mutation I and Mutation II are Japanese in nature; the subject matter, on the other hand, resonates on a global level. The age of genetic engineering, which has already caused alarm in the organic community, has frightening potential. Will all trees eventually be born in test-tubes, yielding whatever fruit we command them to produce?

LA Art Show, celebrating its 19th year, took place January 14-18 at LA Convention Center.

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