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Wilshire Center

A current show of British artist Isaac Witkin’s art offers larger than life-size works in bronze and aluminum. They are best described as sculptural versions of the flat, fossilized abstract shapes found in early Surrealist art. In “Messenger,” femur-like shapes formed of flattened bronze with a greenish and brick patina lean inward toward a central apex forming a kind of tangled tepee. In a weird way, the big lumbering piece conveys both the sense of huddled secrecy and flight. “Sioux Falls” is a tall, spindly mass of vertical bronze sheaths that carry the eye from up to down, spreading, oozing and defying gravity more like giant schematic molasses than water.

Concurrently Laurie Brown shows composite photos in a suite called “Embarkations.” She has journeyed to Mayan ruins and logs the travels in black and white silverprints. These are typically enlarged to a 25x40-inch format and worked to look fuzzy, pitted and archival. In receding perspectives and under timeless skies, the silverprints capture decaying stepped altars, the remnants of chambered temples overgrown with moss and other vegetation. We still marvel at what might have gone on here.

Over these Brown superimposes smaller, less interesting color prints of contemporary landfills, undeveloped vistas and bouldered hillscapes, each with little harbingers like tractor tire tracks and surveyors’ poles announcing that future civilizations are about to erect some token of themselves for posterity. Such titles as “Linkage,” “Meeting Ground” and “Origins” confirm the too obvious message here: History isn’t finite; every time and consciousness leaves its mark on those that follow. That’s a poetic enough notion, but somehow its conclusion--that our progeny will gauge us by our neo-classic pink and turquoise shopping centers--is depressing. (Jan Turner Gallery, 8000 Melrose Ave., to April 8.)


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