Fredrik Nilsen photographs the art of others, an art in itself beyond the science and optics involved in achieving accurate documentation. Examples of his work in this vein, which contribute significantly to L.A.'s art historical record, form half of an oddly staged show at Downtown Photoroom.
Nilsen's pictures of sculptures by Aaron Curry are largely straightforward, some showing the works in an environmental context and some featuring details in isolation. The same goes for images of paintings by Michael Chow. Close-ups highlight their tactile tumult, the studio-meets-street sensibility beneath the rugged surfaces. Nilsen photographed Ken Price's work for the gorgeous catalogue of his 2012 LACMA retrospective, and selections here affirm how intimate a portrait he made of the sculptor's vibrantly animate work.
Also on view are portraits of L.A. artists and gallerists that Nilsen shot in 1999. While it is unusual to treat art-documentation as independent, such portraits could stand on their own--but aren't allowed to. Nilsen has printed the pictures (which are informative but unremarkable) on canvas and strapped them to all visible sides of multi-color inflatable cubes scattered across the floor, some around one foot square, others roughly four feet. The installation looks ridiculous, gratuitous, random in the least ironically redeeming way.
Downtown Photoroom, 1933 S. Broadway, Suite 1242, (323) 300-3783, through Jan. 31. Closed Sunday through Tuesday. www.downtownphotoroom.com