'Seven Reeds,' exploring the 'work' in works of art

Overduin & Co.'s group show 'Seven Reeds' contemplates murky area between nature, culture

“Seven Reeds,” a group show of painting and sculpture at Overduin & Co., takes its title from a short 1949 documentary by Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni.

The five artists don’t illustrate his film’s narrative, which followed the production of synthetic rayon from natural materials all the way to finished fashions. But, using Italian Arte Povera as a starting point, they do operate in a murky, sometimes provocative area somewhere between nature and culture.

Jacob Kassay’s irregularly shaped canvases are covered in finely splattered paint that looks alternately like a celestial star-map or cheap linoleum. Stretched denim torn with holes by Valentina Liernur is part working-class fashion statement, part homage to Lucio Fontana’s slashed paintings, where real spaces intrude on art’s typical illusions.

A glazed ceramic basketball by Nevine Mahmoud is a primordial vessel crossed with an impossible modern toy. Fredrik Vaerslev pushes wooden slats out from the wall on steel struts, the paint-splotched surface transforming a forklift pallet into an artist’s palette.

Overall, the show’s most consistently compelling works are Julia Rommel’s abstract paintings, such as “Blitz.” Rommel stretches and re-stretches linen in rectangles of different sizes. The creases formed in the material establish interior drawing along the paintings’ margins, and finally she paints those linear edges and shapes in bright hues.

The result is a considered composition that records itself coming into being. In part, “Seven Reeds” contemplates the determined power of work within any work of art.

Overduin & Co., 6693 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 464-3600, through Dec. 20. Closed Sun. and Mon.

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