Review: Jonas Lund plays the art flip waiting game

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A Conceptual art project by Swedish-born, Amsterdam-based artist Jonas Lund, which represents his American solo debut, takes that international track for art and ramps it up in a peculiar way. “Flip City,” as the work is called, tries to transform today’s overheated global art market for selected young artists into a kind of electronic game. The result is only partially satisfying.

At Steve Turner Contemporary, Lund shows 40 digitally fabricated abstract paintings, all the same size and none much different from the rest. Each is flecked with color and smeared with swoops of clear-gel medium; they look like something unappetizing from a hotel buffet table being served in an icky aspic glaze.

Most are displayed in a painting rack, so they can’t really be seen. That’s because seeing them is immaterial.


Instead, Lund wants to see the often invisible workings of a segment of the art market, where work by young artists can be flipped -- bought low and, through manipulation, sold high in the secondary market for quickly growing profits.

He attached a GPS tracking device to the back of every painting and printed “Terms of Ownership” on the stretcher bar, requiring the device to be perpetually maintained. The painting’s general location (city, ZIP Code and country) will be charted as it’s resold, and a website will track the work’s movement through the market.

Lund, 30, has done a similar project with on-line art advertising and investment. Now he is courting being flipped (that’s happened to several artists who have shown with the Turner gallery). What’s disconcerting about his installation is its strange sense of absence: Art-like physical objects are present, but since nothing has sold yet, it’s as if the actual art hasn’t begun.

If the sale-resale sequence doesn’t happen, “Flip City” could be flop city. So the waiting installation is a kind of aesthetic black hole, sucking all the energy from the room. A kind of Digital Age version of Jean Tinguely’s “Homage to New York,” a 1960 sculpture designed to self-destruct in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art, the possibility of self-obliteration might be this work’s most compelling feature.

Steve Turner Contemporary, 6026 Wilshire Blvd., (323) 931-3721, through July 3. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Twitter: @KnightLAT