Review: Ry Rocklen’s sly sculptures: There’s more than what you might see at first


There is a seemingly alchemical magic to Ry Rocklen’s sculptures at Honor Fraser. The process by which one thing becomes or reveals another is a central theme of the L.A. artist’s recent work.

Ry Rocklen's “Bottled Up,” 2016. (Brian Forrest / Honor Fraser)

This is particularly evident in four wall-mounted sculptures in the first room. They are ceramic objects, each cut into horizontal slices. Each slice is displayed on a glass shelf with a mirrored backing, the slices aligned to reconstitute the whole. On their front sides, they are flat and bear a photographic image; on their backs they are three-dimensional, but this surface is really visible only as reflected in the mirrors.

This optical confusion is increased by incongruity between front and back. “Bottled Up” depicts a smashed plastic water bottle on its flat side and a sculpture of a man on its back. Perhaps most affecting is an image of a battered chest of drawers that reveals a beautiful, ornate doll’s house behind. It’s like a glimpse into the secret lives of discarded objects — magic hidden in the trash.

In a more traditional sculptural vein, Rocklen has inserted dollar bills stiffened with sand into the metal mesh surface of a public trash can. The bills form a protective shell, like dragon scales, as their faces are reflected in the can’s mirrored bottom. Living one dollar at a time, building up armor, gazing into the bottom of a trash can — these are ideas that become a surreal metaphor for life on the streets.


Ry Rocklen

Where: Honor Fraser, 2622 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles

When: Through Oct. 29; closed Sundays and Mondays

Information: (310) 837-0191,

Ry Rocklen's “These Brilliant Ideas are Property of,” 2016. (Brian Forrest / Honor Fraser)
Ry Rocklen's “School of Hard Knocks,” 2016. (Brian Forrest / Honor Fraser)

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