LA CIENEGA AREA
Evidently the artist’s favorite artists are artists often referred to by one name, “Christo” and “Stella.” Maybe that’s why Katsuhisa Sakai bills himself as “Sakai.” Anyhow it’s his second solo show hereabouts and consists of Stella-like wall reliefs and Christo-like big drawings. So much said, it would be easy to write Sakai off as yet another imitator of success.
But there is more going on here even if the artist doesn’t know it yet. Wooden reliefs like “Steam Mine II” have a Constructivist elegance and antic Dada wit you don’t find in Stella. “Cubic Elevation” looks like the humorous entrails of a musical instrument. “Vertical Boundry II” could be captioned, “Started to build an Art Deco cocktail cabinet and got carried away.”
Even the Christoesque drawings hide a personal quirkiness that’s lots more piquant than their facile imitativeness. Sakai is hardly the first emerging artist to allow his own spark to get lost in admiration and ambition but he’s muffling an individuality that seems eminently worth coaxing out. (Koplin Gallery, 8225 1/2 Santa Monica Blvd., to June 30.)