Critic’s Choice: A foray into clay with stunning results: Richard Hawkins’ ‘New Work’
Over the last 10 years, clay has become the go-to material for artists who want to be in on trends. This has led to loads of mediocre work, much of it made by artists who should know better.
In contrast, Richard Hawkins’ foray into clay has resulted in a body of work perfectly suited to the material’s malleability as well as to his uncanny ability to work with just about anything.
For the last 25 years, Hawkins has transformed rubber masks, magazine pages, scraps of felt and repurposed dollhouses into haunting meditations on the fugitive pleasures people cultivate when the ones served up by mainstream culture fail to satisfy our deepest desires.
Many resemble ancient artifacts. The most audacious appear to be primitive fertility figures.
Sometimes Hawkins’ pint-sized icons are complete with oversized breasts, genitals, mouths, bellies and anuses accentuated with glistening glazes.
At other times, various limbs, organs and skulls are scattered around flat slabs of glazed clay, which are also fractured and fissured. It’s impossible to know if the body parts once belonged to whole figures or if they are complete unto themselves — magical talismans that have taken on lives of their own.
Los Angeles Times photographers document the year in arts and culture.(Los Angeles Times)
When the Mariinsky Ballet performed “Cinderella” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Oct. 8, even the wondrous Diana Vishneva as Cinderella couldn’t bring unity to the movement, but she danced with flawless, fearless authority. Read more >>(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins leaves a rehearsal of his play “Appropriate,” opening Oct. 4 at the Mark Taper Forum, to eat first with a reporter, then later with his agent and some unspecified Hollywood people, who presumably hope to lure him away from the field and city where he has experienced meteoric success in the last five years. Read more >>(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Kerstin Anderson takes charge of Maria von Trapp with a spirit so joyful, a physicality so lithe and coltish, and a soprano so flawlessly soaring that only Frau Schraeder, Capt. Von Trapp’s jilted fiancée (Teri Hansen), could possibly resist her charm. Read the Oct. 1 review >>(Los Angeles Times)
Soprano Abigail Fischer performs Oct. 7 in the opera “Songs from the Uproar” at REDCAT in Los Angeles.(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Moisés Kaufman’s muscular revival of “Bent,” which played at the Mark Taper Forum, opening on July 26, renders what many had written off as a parochial drama about the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany into a gripping tale of love, courage and identity. Read review >>(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Malaviki Sarukkai performing at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica on July 19, 2015. Sarukkai is the best-known exponent of South Indian classical dance.(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Bramwell Tovey conducts the L.A. Phil with pianist Garrick Ohlsson in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at the Hollywood Bowl on July 14, 2015.(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Argentine dancer Herman Cornejo performs in the West Coast premiere of “Tango y Yo” as part of the Latin portion of BalletNow.(Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
Jake Shears plays Greta in Martin Sherman’s play “Bent” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles through Aug. 23, 2015.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Dancers rehearse a one-night-only performance choregraphed by Raiford Rogers, one of L.A.'s most-noted choreographers. This year the dance will be to a new original score by Czech composer Zbynek Mateju.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Oscar-winning actor Ben Kingsley in Los Angeles on July 9, 2015.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Mia Sinclair Jenness, left, Mabel Tyler and Gabby Gutierrez alternate playing the title role in the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” at the Ahmanson Theatre. The three are shown during a day at Santa Monica Pier on June 16, 2015.(Christina House / For The Times)
American Contemporary Ballet Company members Zsolt Banki and Cleo Magill perform a dance routine originally done by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. This performance was presented as part of “Music + Dance: L.A.” on Friday, June 19, 2015.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Miguel, a Grammy-winning guitarist, producer, singer and lyricist, is photographed in San Pedro on Wednesday, June 10, 2015. His new album “Wildheart,” explores L.A.'s “weird mix of hope and desperation.”(Christina House / For The Times)
Los Angeles-born artist Mark Bradford is photographed in front of “The Next Hot Line.” This piece is part of his show “Scorched Earth,” installed at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, June 11, 2015.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
The Los Angeles Opera concluded its season with “The Marriage of Figaro,” with Roberto Tagliavini as Figaro and Pretty Yende as Susanna, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
“Trinket,” a monumental installation by Newark-born, Chicago-based artist William Pope.L, features an American flag that is 16 feet tall and 45 feet long. The work is on display at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA through June 28.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Alex Knox, from left, Carolyn Ratteray, Lynn Milgrim and Paige Lindsey White in “Pygmalion” in spring 2015 at the Pasadena Playhouse.(Mariah Tauger / For The Times)
On March 17, Google celebrated the addition of more than 5,000 images to its Google Street Art project with a launch party at the Container Yard in downtown Los Angeles.(Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
Ric Salinas, left, Herbert Siguenza and Richard Montoya, of the three-man Latino theater group Culture Clash, brought their “Chavez Ravine: An L.A. Revival” to the Kirk Douglas Theatre to mark the group’s 30th anniversary. The play ran from Feb. 4 through March 1.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Symbols also appear, particularly 3-D discs and incised circles. Some look like peyote buttons. Others recall wheels, sliced pizzas and sphincters, as well as eyes, sand dollars and circled crosses. Gears grind objects between their stubby teeth. Or their broken forms suggest cosmic clockwork in need of repair.
Coffins show up in the majority of Hawkins’ pieces, either serving as the resting places for strange deities or forming apertures in wall-like expanses on which DIY petroglyphs have been scratched.
Each of Hawkins’ curious clusters of weirdly detailed artifacts has been fastened to an approximately 2-foot-square wood panel around which a simple frame has been hammered.
You feel as if you have stumbled into the storeroom of an archaeologist whose discoveries have not yet been made public, partly because they are unbelievable and partly because Hawkins is having too much fun studying every nook and cranny.
Richard Telles Fine Art, 7300 Beverly Blvd., (323) 965-5579, through Dec. 12. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.tellesfineart.com and Jenny’s, 4220 Sunset Blvd., (323) 741-8237, through Dec. 12. Closed Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. www.jennys.us
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