ENTERTAINMENT ARTS & CULTURE
Review

The truth is out there. Or is it? Conspiracies and secrets in the art of Abel Alejandre

Abel Alejandre’s streamlined exhibition at Coagula Curatorial centers on conspiracy theories, UFOs and personal secrets. The artist applies his trademark crosshatching — a detailed, highly graphic style reminiscent of woodcut prints — to a patchwork quilt of black-and-white paintings and a suite of baseball caps. The results are visually striking and intriguing, if enigmatic.

Abel Alejandre's "Alien Invader" (part of a 12-panel wall installation), 2016.
Abel Alejandre's "Alien Invader" (part of a 12-panel wall installation), 2016. (Coagula Curatorial)

Each of the 10 black baseball caps, presented on mannequin heads on shelves, features a delicate scene painted in white on the front panel. These include images of legends such as the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot, as well as the subjects of conspiracy theories, such as Area 51, the moon landing and 9/11. By putting these images on the part of the cap where the team or brand logo normally would go, Alejandre suggests the allegiance of the prospective wearer. It’s a way of saying, Fox Mulder-style, “I believe.”

The paintings, fitted together on the wall like a puzzle, are more complex. They depict portraits, animals, flowers, lucha libre wrestlers, cockroaches and abstract designs in juxtapositions that clearly are deeply felt but are largely indecipherable. They seem to construct a private mythology, beautifully executed and surreal in their sense of mystery. The show’s title is “Public Secrets,” but these works are keeping mum.

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Coagula Curatorial, 974 Chung King Road, Los Angeles, (424) 226-2485, through May 22. Closed Sunday through Tuesday. www.coagulacuratorial.com

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