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A first solo exhibition in L.A., drawing on Howardena Pindell's long career

A first solo exhibition in L.A., drawing on Howardena Pindell's long career
Howardena Pindell, "Untitled #49," 2010. (Courtesy the artist and Honor Fraser Gallery)

It's hard to believe that this small retrospective at Honor Fraser is Howardena Pindell's first solo exhibition on the West Coast.

The New York artist has been a quiet but important force in abstract, feminist and African American art for more than 40 years. Although by no means comprehensive, the show reveals the remarkable consistency of her practice and her ability to surprise.

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I had known Pindell's painting and collage work from the 1970s: large, seemingly monochromatic paintings that dissolve close up into joyous palpitations of multicolored dots, and dense collages of tiny cut-paper circles that form riotous, flickering fields of color and texture. These works often play off the grid, using it as a structuring device, if only to explode it.

Pindell has continued to make these works into the 21st century, integrating handwritten numbers and arrows; they continue to be beautiful and engaging.

The show also introduced me to an unfamiliar body of work: "Video Drawings," in which Pindell photographs images from the television, covers them in tiny hand-drawn arrows and numbers and then rephotographs them. Pindell has been making these wholly unexpected works since the 1970s.

Mostly images of sports broadcasts, the drawings seem to indicate minuscule lines of force. They are mysterious but also go "off the grid," breaking up everyday imagery with restless, swirling movement.

Honor Fraser, 2622 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 837-0191, through Oct. 29. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.honorfraser.com

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