Critic’s Guide: Los Angeles

‘A Shape That Stands Up’, a Hammer Museum off-site exhibition curated by Jamillah James, features a group of paintings, drawings and sculptures that are founded in figurative abstraction. This may appear as well-trodden ground, but there are two striking aspects here that set the exhibition apart: firstly, the integration of both well-known and emerging artists, and secondly, the common sense of burden that is present amongst the works: a heaviness, a frenzy, a grotesque-ness.

Math Bass’s And Its Shadow (2014), for example, a metal sheet resembling a headless figure, slouches heavily against the wall. Jamian Juliano-Villani’s To Live and Die in Passaic(2016), portrays a partially peeled orange carrying its own heavy pulp across the canvas on small legs. And Sue Williams’s violent mash of gyrating cartoon organs in Democratization #3 (2006) is set alongside the grabbing and kicking disembodied limbs of D’Metrius ‘DJ’ Rice’s Ultimatum/Dig Me Out (Maturity) (2015), a work located somewhere between the crude aesthetic of punk zines and the harsh realism of Otto Dix.

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