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Getting Lost in Rob Thom’s Crowds

Rob Thom’s paintings resemble funhouse mirrors tilted towards pleasure-seeking crowds, magnifying follies and foibles that extend to American culture at large. His works in “The Beast” at M+B depict mostly white middle-class throngs at leisure in typical venues such as zoos, carnivals, and wrestling matches. Each scene appears ordinary enough until you notice comical panoplies […]


Artists Break Bans and Bridge Barriers in “Focus Iran 3: Contemporary Photography and Video”

Forty-two photographs and videos present a panoptic view of Persian youth culture in “Focus Iran 3: Contemporary Photography and Video,” the third Iranian photography biennial at Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles. Sponsored primarily by Farhang Foundation, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting Iranian art, this sweeping juried exhibition suggests that despite our respective governments’ […]


Emma Webster’s Complicated Vistas of Human Nature in Dioramic Landscapes

Nothing seems right in Emma Webster’s No Man’s Land (all works 2018): toadstools are weirdly spotlighted; wispy arboreal cutouts contain more than mere foliage; and a nearby cervine, possibly an antelope, is impossibly dwarfed by a distant moose. Such incongruities lead one to wonder: what sort of location does this painting depict? Webster painted No […]

Read | Comments Off on Emma Webster’s Complicated Vistas of Human Nature in Dioramic Landscapes | Tags: Winter 2019

Diverse Artists Navigate Boundaries in “Here” at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery

Los Angeles encompasses so many neighborhoods, districts, and suburbs that nary a local can keep track of them all. In a city so sprawling and diverse, the idea of boundaries seems especially salient during our current epoch when notions of acceptability shift like sand in the wind even as divisive talks revolve around building permanent […]

Read | Comments Off on Diverse Artists Navigate Boundaries in “Here” at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery | Tags: December 2018

Film Review: In “Sgt. Will Gardner,” a Tormented Combat Veteran Battles Against His Own Memories

Possibly the earliest visual record of shell shock, the above photograph shows a Crimean War infantry captain whose eyes appear as windows to a hollow, desperate soul. Two years later, he died from the hardships of war shortly after returning home to Britain. In a similar manner about 150 years later, “Sgt. Will Gardner,” a […]

Read | Comments Off on Film Review: In “Sgt. Will Gardner,” a Tormented Combat Veteran Battles Against His Own Memories | Tags: December 2018

Three Artists’ Techno-futurist Dystopias

“‘I’m living my life out in a cell in a row of beehives and when I wake up and think of it like I did last night it seems to me I’ll just go crazy! …All these flats just exactly like this one—all of ’em with exactly the same maroon in the furniture and rugs, […]

Read | Comments Off on Three Artists’ Techno-futurist Dystopias | Tags: * · November 2018

Film Review: “The Price of Everything” Paints a Valuable Group Portrait of Art Market Players

“The Price of Everything,” a 98-minute documentary directed by Nathaniel Kahn, tenders a panoptic window on the contemporary art market’s upper echelon via a carefully orchestrated sequence of interview segments with a wide array of prominent art world influentials. Seeming particularly timely in light of the $90.3 m Hockney auction record set just three days […]

Read | Comments Off on Film Review: “The Price of Everything” Paints a Valuable Group Portrait of Art Market Players | Tags: November 2018

Karon Davis’ “Muddy Water” Immerses Gallery Visitors in Flood Victims’ Distress

Karon Davis’ sculpture installation at Wilding Cran Gallery transports you into an eerie dreamlike flooded world where time has been suspended and all that remains is a melancholy sense of emptiness tinged with despair. This show’s simple evocative atmosphere poignantly distills disaster victims’ sorrows and black Americans’ larger struggles. A recent evacuee from devastating California […]

Read | Comments Off on Karon Davis’ “Muddy Water” Immerses Gallery Visitors in Flood Victims’ Distress | Tags: October 2018

Film Review: “Gunshi Kanbei,” A Saga of Power and Betrayal in Feudal Japan

You likely haven’t heard of taiga dramas, and even more likely, have never watched one. Let me employ my first contribution as AEQAI’s film critic towards attempting to remedy that, for these classic yearlong Japanese television programs deserve far more attention than they receive in the U.S. Taiga dramas: a brief introduction Not to be […]

Read | Comments Off on Film Review: “Gunshi Kanbei,” A Saga of Power and Betrayal in Feudal Japan | Tags: October 2018

Jeff Keen’s Idiosyncratic Worlds of Collaged Films and Cinematic Drawings

“We are all collage artists today, switching from one channel to another, re-editing as we go,” the late British artist Jeff Keen (1923-2012) once declared. In this age of ubiquitous smartphones, where we devour and re-synthesize words and images in staggering quantities at lightning speeds, Keen’s idea has accreted new resonance; and so has his […]

Read | Comments Off on Jeff Keen’s Idiosyncratic Worlds of Collaged Films and Cinematic Drawings | Tags: September 2018

Sophie von Hellermann Experiments with Cultures in her Painted “Petri Dishes”

Cleverly convoluting scientific and sociological meanings of the word “culture,” Sophie von Hellermann’s paintings portray clear disks brimming with mysterious vignettes in “Petri Dishes,” her show at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery in Los Angeles. Each canvas functions as a petri dish for von Hellermann’s painted explorations where microbiologic vessels serve as symbolic spheres for testing paint’s […]

Read | Comments Off on Sophie von Hellermann Experiments with Cultures in her Painted “Petri Dishes” | Tags: July/August 2018

An Otherworldly Journey Through the Museum of Jurassic Technology

Los Angeles is home to so many eccentric museums that the city practically has its own ever-growing genre of weird museums with sundry specialized themes ranging from ice cream to death.  Among these, one of the oldest and most intriguing is the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Everything about this institution is so otherworldly that it […]

Read | Comments Off on An Otherworldly Journey Through the Museum of Jurassic Technology | Tags: * · June 2018

Karen Margolis’ “Garden of Mutei” at Garis & Hahn, Los Angeles

Having pervaded Western societies for centuries, the archetype of huge and showy artworks seems to have reached a pinnacle in our era where large and loud look better online. Karen Margolis’ delicate, meditative collages, on view through May 12 at Garis & Hahn in Los Angeles, pull the proverbial rug out from under the preconceived […]

Read | Comments Off on Karen Margolis’ “Garden of Mutei” at Garis & Hahn, Los Angeles | Tags: April/May 2018

Celebrating the Afterlife With Ed Moses Amid Ghanaian Fantasy Coffins

On January 6 in Los Angeles, Ernie Wolfe Gallery opened a show titled “Eddie M and the FAVs,” featuring Ed Moses’ paintings alongside elaborate Ghanaian coffins which the proprietor calls “fantastic afterlife vehicles (FAVs).” Eleven days later, Moses died of natural causes. It seems eerily opportune that this show’s opening was the last public outing […]


“Prometheus 2017: Four Artists from Mexico Revisit Orozco” Fails to Fire

Inside Frary Dining Hall at Pomona College in Claremont, CA, beyond extensive rows of tables and chairs, one encounters a singular sight atop the arched central panel of the back wall: a large 1930 fresco by José Clemente Orozco. Designated Prometheus, this mural depicts its titular Greek titan painted in Orozco’s signature El Greco-esque style. […]

Read | Comments Off on “Prometheus 2017: Four Artists from Mexico Revisit Orozco” Fails to Fire | Tags: December 2017

Narcoculture’s Intertwined Beauty and Horror: Eduardo Sarabia’s “Drifting on a Dream” at The Mistake Room, Los Angeles

Are there any media that Eduardo Sarabia doesn’t employ? The Guadalajara-based, Los Angeles-born artist’s current show features ceramics, sculptures, drawings, paintings, murals, photos, performance documentation, and a video, which together add up to an engrossing installation addressing the fantasies, violence, and symbolism of narco-culture. Sarabia’s first hometown solo show in almost 10 years and part […]

Read | Comments Off on Narcoculture’s Intertwined Beauty and Horror: Eduardo Sarabia’s “Drifting on a Dream” at The Mistake Room, Los Angeles | Tags: October 2017

Latin America Colonizes Los Angeles Via Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA

Despite Southern California’s large Hispanic population, Latin American art is seldom shown. Aside from some museums’ pre-Columbian sections and paintings by well-known artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, the Americas south of ours might as well be unconnected to our landmass, perhaps on the opposite hemisphere. As of this month, all this has changed, […]


Jonathan Monk’s “Perfectly Concocted Context” at Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles

Paradoxically, Jonathan Monk’s show at Cherry and Martin exists simultaneously as a well-curated group show and Monk’s single-authored conceptual installation. Surprisingly, instead of leeching all significance from its constituents, the show embodies its title, “Perfectly Concocted Context.” Individual artworks are shown to advantage while uniting to form a more meaningful whole that resounds their spirit […]

Read | Comments Off on Jonathan Monk’s “Perfectly Concocted Context” at Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles | Tags: July/August 2017

Orca Endgame: SeaWorld’s Survival Mission

Truly, SeaWorld seems like a world in itself. That the aquarium-amusement park hybrid offers an experience unlike any other explains its success since 1964. Surrounded by ambient piped-in music, bubbles, and sundry other artifices, visitors can watch shows, ride roller coasters, play with animals, and immerse themselves in huge aquariums, all in the same day. […]

Read | Comments Off on Orca Endgame: SeaWorld’s Survival Mission | Tags: May/June 2017

The Enigmatic Visions of a Former Wine Merchant: Jean Dubuffet

What makes Jean Dubuffet’s art so captivating? Dubuffet Drawings, 1935-1962, which closed April 30 at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, offered insight into elusive qualities that vivify his work. The rawness characterizing Dubuffet’s oeuvre is especially palpable in his drawings. This medium’s immediacy seems ideal for embodying his characteristic roughhewn aesthetic. “I must learn […]

Read | Comments Off on The Enigmatic Visions of a Former Wine Merchant: Jean Dubuffet | Tags: April 2017

Inside the Judgment Zone

People can be so truculent, never missing an opportunity to censure others. That’s what makes Planet Fitness’ storied promise of a “Judgement [sic] Free Zone” so appealing. Yet behind the appeal is a shadowy void; the very act of establishing such a zone involves judgment. In his current show at And/Or Gallery in Pasadena, Jacob […]

Read | Comments Off on Inside the Judgment Zone | Tags: March 2017

Ruins in Drinking Glasses: Michael Dopp’s “Capriccio” at Roberts & Tilton

“Capriccio,” Michael Dopp’s show in Roberts & Tilton’s small secondary gallery, features 18 ink drawings brimming with symbolism. From afar, their washy Old Masterish monochromaticity suggests pictures one would find hanging in a musty museum or library display case rather than on the walls of a contemporary gallery. Closer observation reveals that the venerable academic […]

Read | Comments Off on Ruins in Drinking Glasses: Michael Dopp’s “Capriccio” at Roberts & Tilton | Tags: January/February 2017

Implosions of Significance

As I reflect on my experience of this year, two dates stand out: June 14 and August 16. On those days, Riviera hotel and casino buildings exploded on the Las Vegas Strip, disappearing in seconds before the eyes of hordes of onlookers including me. All pales in comparison to those events crystallized ablaze in my […]

Read | Comments Off on Implosions of Significance | Tags: December 2016

Double Vision: “Made In L.A.” and “Maiden LA”

This summer, Los Angeles hosted two biennials: the inaugural iteration of a city-sponsored public art biennial called “Current: L.A.,” and the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A.,” the third iteration of Los Angeles’ original biennial. In response to these exclusive exhibitions, two artists, aided by the sponsorship of various organizations, created a broadly inclusive, do-it-yourself exposition […]

Read | Comments Off on Double Vision: “Made In L.A.” and “Maiden LA” | Tags: * · Early Fall 2016

Man Cave as Museum Piece

“Man cave” is a term used by both Guillermo del Toro[1] and press materials for his exhibition, “Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters” to describe the celebrated film director’s atelier. More formally styled “Bleak House,” it is a suburban abode filled with panoplies of objects that inspire del Toro and some artists and designers […]

Read | Comments Off on Man Cave as Museum Piece | Tags: Summer 2016