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Review: Richard Jackson, Franz Ackermann at Otero Plassart

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Painting has been unbound (from representation, the canvas, the wall) for some time, but reveling in its liberation can still be exhilarating. Or not.

Richard Jackson’s entry in a two-person show at the Otero Plassart gallery is a folly of paint-pooled dishes and pigment-juiced chandelier bulbs. “The Kids’ Table,” resting on a large smiley-faced jigsaw puzzle, is set as if for a conventional meal, but what’s served up is paint, encrusted on the plates, a dry lake in the pitcher, stilled in the IV-like tubing that shoots up to the blinking neon light fixture overhead. The installation is a relic of a romp, the residue of an action painting that erupted within a Pop-ified environment. It might have nourished the chef, a California Conceptualist whose favorite ingredients are chance and disruption, but on its own it stands as messy affectation.

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Franz Ackermann’s “Mental Maps” sprawl across the gallery walls with far more stimulating abandon. Each of the German artist’s three works (two are 11 feet wide; one, more than 20 feet) layers collages or photographs atop a crisply delineated wall painting of sinuous circuitry. The tight control of the base paintings (in an energetic palette of neon orange, violet, coral, crimson and midnight blue) frays in the overlying, more improvisational imagery, whether round gestural canvases or irregular paper panels inset with photographs of foreign cities and beaches. Place and movement reckon with each other. Fruitful frictions buzz between map and sketch, stasis and change, macro and micro structures, a sense of vigorous connectedness and rootless instability.

-- Leah Ollman

Otero Plassart, 820 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 951-1068, through May 2. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Above: Richard Jackson’s ‘The Kids’ Table’ (foreground), with Franz Ackermann’s ‘Your Cities Are Almost Mine’ (background). Credit: Brian Forrest/Otero Plassart


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