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Art review: Jonas Lipps at Thomas Solomon

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German artist Jonas Lipps’ watercolors at Thomas Solomon Gallery are small but far from precious. Executed on found paper — leaflets, hole-punched notebook pages, yellowed paper with typewritten text — they are amorphous, apparently stream-of-consciousness musings that sometimes coalesce into something interesting and sometimes not. Still, despite their apparent randomness, there’s a sincerity about them: a playful blend of surreal imagery, expressionist gestures, cartoons and art historical references.

In one, a round-headed man sits with hands clasped serenely at a desk while a demon holding a key and an elf holding a broom appear to emerge from a nearby electrical outlet. In another, a man in a large black hat sits on a bench in front a ship on a roiling sea while a banana floats incongruously nearby. In still another image, a cartoony figure walks through a desert landscape carrying a small podium marked with spots for first, second and third place. Is he on his way to the hamster Olympics? Who knows?

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Perhaps the images are dreams or allegories — the examples above are just the ones that spoke to me. In this sense they are a bit like Rorschach tests: You see only what you bring with you. This open-endedness is appealing, but the work is perhaps too diffuse to sustain prolonged attention.

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--Sharon Mizota

Thomas Solomon Gallery, 427 Bernard St., L.A., (323) 275-1687, through March 3. Closed Sundays through Tuesdays. www.thomassolomongallery.com

Photos, from top: Jonas Lipps, Untitled, 2010. Watercolor on paper, 8 1/4 x 11 5/8 inches. Credit: Nick Ash, from Thomas Solomon Gallery, Los Angeles. Jonas Lipps, Untitled, 2011. Watercolor on paper, 5 3/4 x 8 1/4 inches. Credit: Nick Ash, from Thomas Solomon Gallery, Los Angeles.


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