Striking street images from the Prague Spring, the surreal virtual worlds generated by an artist and his mother, photography that blurs the line between fact and fiction, and a talk by a prominent Guatemalan performance artist on art in our heady political age. There’s lots going on in Greater El Lay. Here’s what we’ve got in the hopper:
Josef Koudelka, “Nationality Doubtful” at the Getty Center. The first retrospective devoted to this important Czech-born photographer since 1988 gathers more than 180 works from throughout the artist's six-decades-long career. This includes his stark, downright cinematic images of Roma communities and his first-hand shots of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 — smuggled out of the country with the aid of a friend, who helped get them published in the international press. Through March 22, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, getty.edu.
Jacolby Satterwhite, “How Love Is Me Being As I Am,” at Ohwow Gallery. Satterwhite’s hallucinatory worlds — which feel like the sort of digital weirdness you might encounter in "Second Life" — have appeared in his live-action/animated videos, prints and sculptures. They might seem inspired by sci-fi, but many of his works take as a point of inspiration the inventive drawings of his mother, afflicted with schizophrenia, who sketches thousands of fantastical inventions in the hopes of profiting from them. (There's a great interview about his process in Guernica.) I was intrigued by Satterwhite's work at the Whitney Biennial and am very much looking forward to this show. Opening reception 6 p.m. Saturday; show runs through Dec. 20. 937 N. La Cienega, West Hollywood, oh-wow.com.
“Artificial Complexion” at Various Small Fires (VSF). A couple of weeks back, the Art Newspaper reported that Marcel Duchamp’s urinal may not have been his urinal at all, but was instead a piece by artist, baroness and bohemian Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. Now a show at VSF will consider the good baroness' legacy in a show of work by various contemporary artists inspired by her appropriationist, dadaist vein. Opening reception 6 p.m. Saturday; runs through Dec. 29. 812 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, vsf.la.
Florian Maier-Aichen at Blum & Poe. Images of aerials and landscapes — from the L.A. Harbor to the Alps to the Rhine River — are manipulated in myriad ways by this German-born, L.A.-based artist in ways that will leave you wondering what is fiction and what is real. Opening reception 6 p.m. Saturday; show runs through Dec. 20. 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, blumandpoe.com.
Lita Albuquerque, “STELLAR Axis: Antarctica,” at Kohn Gallery. For her latest project, installation and environmental artist Albuquerque (who got her start with the Light and Space artists of the 1970s) headed to Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf to shoot a series of blue spheres in arrangements that echo the stars in the night sky. Opening reception 6 p.m. Saturday; show runs through Dec. 20. 1227 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, kohngallery.com.
Shizu Saldamando, “Ouroboros: (revolutionary cycles, rebirth, or dancing in a circle),” at South of Sunset. Works that document moments of movement and social interaction at various L.A. dance clubs will be the subject of this SoCal artist’s large-scale photorealistic paintings on paper. The show will also include video. Through Dec. 3, 1218 W. Temple St., Echo Park, Los Angeles, southofsunset.la.
Max Maslansky, “The Edge of Night,” at Five Car Garage. L.A. painter Maslansky (who was featured in the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A.” Biennial) frequently takes on the extreme postures of the porn industry in his deeply saturated canvases, some of which are painted on bed sheets. For his latest show at this popular garage space in Santa Monica, he chronicles the work of gay adult film star Dennis Posa (also known as Dennis Parker and Wade Nichols). Opening reception 4 p.m. Saturday; show runs through Dec. 30. Call ahead at (310) 497-6895 or email email@example.com for Santa Monica location info. emmagrayhq.com.
A lecture by Regina José Galindo at Cal State Northridge. The esteemed Guatemalan performance artist, who received the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Biennale in 2005, will discuss issues of art and social justice as part of the university’s Central American Studies Lecture Series. 11 a.m. Friday, 18111 Nordhoff St., Whitsett Room, Sierra Hall, CSUN, Northridge, csun.edu.
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