Review: At Blum & Poe, bow down to the ecstatic painting of Mimi Lauter


Mimi Lauter’s ebullient pastel works at Blum & Poe play with the format of multipart European altarpieces, creating the effect of a chapel in the large downstairs gallery.

The subject matter is nominally secular, abstracted from nature: orbs and orifices, branches and seedpods, swirls of wind or wave. These are rendered in an ecstatic palette and bold, confident strokes. The overall effect is rapturous. You might want to kneel down in awe.

Titled “Sensus Oxynation,” the installation consists of five “murals,” each composed of multiple frames. “Moonrise” is a torrent of turquoise, punctuated at its base with a bright yellow disc that sends tendrils up toward a pale moon in a hail of red. Dancing across the top three panels is an undulating horizontal red skein. Is it a tree branch? An umbilical cord?

No matter, the form is echoed across the room in “Sunrise,” which is like a Van Gogh sunflower gone supernova.

Mimi Lauter, “Sensus Oxynation (Sunrise),” 2017.
(Mimi Lauter / Blum & Poe)

Chromatic respites are provided on the other two walls by murals depicting paler, albeit no less energetic floodwaters. Amid the swirls and eddies are suggestions of bodily orifices. It’s impossible to determine the scale of the tumult we are witnessing. Is this an internal roiling or the end of the world?

Works in the other two rooms are smaller and less impactful, although “Land, Sea, Sky Chamber” is a standout, perhaps because its spread-eagle design — “wings” emanating from a central flower/phallus — echoes the segmented format of the larger pieces. The frames of the multi-part murals heighten the overflowing energy of their component drawings in a way that is difficult to replicate in a conventional, single frame presentation.

Mimi Lauter, “Land, Sea, Sky Chamber,” 2018.
(Mimi Lauter / Blum & Poe)

Although they contain no obvious religious iconography, the works clearly evoke spirituality, perhaps of the Mother Nature, New Age variety. Yet Lauter brings fresh energy to what might otherwise be hackneyed territory. We can feel her pushing and pulling, scraping and incising these pictures, as if possessed. They almost burst out of their frames with the vitality of sun, moon, flowers, fire, too much of everything.

Blum & Poe, 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A. Through June 23; closed Sundays and Mondays. (310) 836-2062,

“Mimi Lauter: Sensus Oxynation,” Installation view, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, 2018. Credit:
(Sam Kahn)

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