Inevitably, the recent paintings of multicolored dots by B. Wurtz put a viewer in mind of Damien Hirst, he of the thousands of paintings with grids of multicolored circles on a white background. Hirst was neither the first nor only artist to harness the visual theme; but the sheer volume of his parodies of abstract painting colonized the territory, like white cells overwhelming the art-world bloodstream, giving him the dull equivalent of a brand.
All the more reason that Wurtz’s dot paintings at Richard Telles Fine Arts, seven of which are in the New York-based artist’s first solo show at the gallery in several years, are so captivating. In the face of post-industrial global brand-blitz, he gives us wit, modesty and handmade eccentricity. The result restores a sense of intimacy to an encounter with abstract art.
Rainbow colored acrylic spots -- brushy and irregular rather than slick, random rather than lined up in a mechanical grid -- are accompanied by small clusters of buttons within an inscribed circle and sewn onto loosely hanging canvas. The ones on paper incorporate metal grommets and plastic lids.
Thread connects some of the dots, or else it’s used to fashion hangers with which to suspend the work on the wall. The sewing materials give the art a sense of functionality, mysterious but earnest; its job is to engage pleasurable interactions of perceptual thought.
The same goes for Wurtz’s five self-effacing sculptures, assembled from wooden dowels, bits of wire, some plastic bags, a wash cloth, bottle caps and other mundane ephemera. Like a whimsical cross between Alexander Calder’s gentler kinetic sculptures and Richard Tuttle’s fragile coaxing of painting and drawing into three improbable dimensions, these totemic assemblages possess insouciant personalities.
Richard Telles Fine Arts, 7380 Beverly Blvd., (323) 965-5578, through March 15. Closed Sun. and Mon. www.tellesfineart.com