Art review: Emilie Halpern at Pepin Moore

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A conceptual artist with a minimalist sensibility, Emilie Halpern rides a delicate line between economy and dearth. Her works can be slight nearly to the point of disappearance. When they click — which is to say, when a well winnowed concept comes into alignment with a gracefully refined form — the effect can be dazzling. When it doesn’t quite, or when the trick relies too heavily on a news release or other explicative mechanism, one has the feeling of being left with very little.

‘Jamais Vu,’ Halpern’s second solo show with Pepin Moore, is a bit of a mix. An installation on the floor involving 29 black, hollow emu eggs, many of them cracked or shattered, feels insubstantial and mildly bewildering in a show in which the most eloquent themes revolve around the sea, the solar system and, in some fainter sense, birth and death. ‘Earth & Sky,’ on the other hand — a sculpture in which a small, black meteorite rests on a larger white stone that sits on the floor — is flawlessly composed, a neatly ironic material expression of its archetypal title, one that that echoes a number of other references in the show to the meeting point between the land and the heavens.

The show’s most haunting piece, by far, is ‘Drown,’ an installation consisting only of a single, transient gesture: the pouring of four liters of ocean water onto the concrete floor of the gallery every day. It is a modest and, for at least some portion of the day, a nearly invisible act that assumes on alarming poignancy when you learn that it is the volume of water that would fill the human lungs.



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-- Holly Myers

Pepin Moore, 933 Chung King Road, Los Angeles, (213) 626-0501, through Saturday.