As a former filmmaker, I have an appreciation for music's ability to heighten emotion in visual terms. So, I tend to enjoy artworks that understand the value of rhythm, composition and tempo.

That's partly why I'm excited about the work of 35-year-old Viennese artist Tillman Kaiser, who will get his first solo show in the U.S. at the Honor Fraser gallery this weekend (through June 28). "Music is very important," he says. "Because it helps me forget myself while I work."

Bob Marley and Miles Davis "helped" him create his current body of work, which includes wallpaper, ready-mades and photos. That gives his silk-screened canvases a kaleidoscopic effect, with crystalline patterns and shapes that radiate outward in a precise fashion. "I work from free association," he says. "So it's a bit more reflective than expressive."

Oddly enough, that process also mirrors some of the work of West Coast artists from the 1950s (in particular Jay DeFeo or Lee Mullican), who also found inspiration in jazz. But Kaiser claims that his influences tend to be the Surrealists and the Dada artists, which is why he likes to employ found objects and images in his work, as well as double entendres and outright humor. "I prefer lightness to heaviness," he says.


-- theguide@latimes.com

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