Art made from mail returned to sender

Agnes Lux's two large diamond-shaped works present fields of contrasting, interrupted pattern

Credit Ray Johnson with first enlisting the U.S. Postal Service, in the 1950s, as an unwitting collaborator in the vigorous, ongoing exchange and distribution of art.

On Kawara was another heavy user of the mail, sending postcards to friends and colleagues announcing what time he woke up as a conceptual/existential exercise, a daily declaration of presence.

Agnes Lux, based in Berlin, has developed a postcard project of her own that is thickened by these historical associations but distinct in its insularity and focus on abstract form. Lux draws in graphite on mail-ready postcards, either shading the entire surface with rough, insistent strokes or dividing it into interlocking geometric shapes.

She assembles the cards into large mosaics, then disassembles them, mails the cards to herself, and reassembles them when, like boomerangs, they return.

Three of her pieces at Martos are 5-foot-tall parallelograms made of more than 100 fully shaded cards. Minimalist monochrome paintings of a sort, they also echo the stark seriality of Carl Andre's floor sculptures.

Lux's two large diamond-shaped works present fields of contrasting, interrupted pattern. The postcards are slightly scuffed, and in some places creased and torn. Postmarks and other coded cancellations indicate their passage through the mail system.

Throughout, however, the work has far less material presence and tactile richness than its process would suggest. The work's interest doesn't stop with its premise, but neither does it extend far beyond it.

Martos Gallery Los Angeles, 3315 W. Washington Blvd., (212) 560-0670, through April 25. Closed Sunday-Tuesday.

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