South African artist Cameron Platter has one of those careers that could exist only in the globalized, digitized art world of our times: diffuse in sensibility, divergent in practice, predicated on the image saturation of the everyday.
He draws, sculpts (in wood, clay and bronze), makes videos and more. He recently had Zulu weavers create large tapestries out of designs he based on interracial porn DVD covers — then he coated the hand-spun wool surfaces with LSD. Sex shows up a lot in his work. As does chicken.
The show “Teen Non_Fiction” at the L.A. gallery 1301PE pairs a small group of Platter’s sculptures with a grid of 24 charcoal drawings. The show, depending on which body of work you’re addressing, is either marvelous or maddening, beautifully thick or shamefully thin.
His three untitled bronzes (2017) suggest Platter is deep into a satisfying dialogue with early modernist abstraction. All are roughly the size of a cinder block, but their formal elegance and subtlety override any association with construction sites. Three oval openings perforate one of the blocks, while another has five pairs of floor-through windows that turn it into a skyscraper writ small.
Platter appears to have chiseled the pieces out of wood before casting them in bronze, offsetting smooth exterior walls with more rugged, dappled interiors. He honors the basic geometry of each shape but tweaks the staid rhythm with delightful, stealthy irregularities such as dented corners and rounded edges.
The third sculpture has been carved and notched into a jaunty zigzag that hints at a hip-swaying human torso.
There’s an intelligence to all three of these compact beauties, a generosity and playfulness that makes it tempting to keep your back turned to the brash and simplistic drawings.
Platter’s line is thick and insistent but wasted on empty scrawls, unremarkable shapes and puerile phrases. A chicken drumstick floats in the center of one sheet; a cartoonish, four-fingered hand juts into another. Throughout, Platter’s fingerprints and handprints smudge the off-white stock. Rather than adding some raw authenticity, the marks feel hollow and self-important, the residue of a meaningless performance.
1301PE, 6150 Wilshire Blvd., L.A. Through Saturday. www.1301PE.com
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