Lisa Sigal’s intriguing painted constructions at LAXART exploit the overlap between the conventions of abstract, geometric painting and the blunt, graphic aesthetic of traffic signs, caution tape and flat, concrete walls.
Coating drywall, wall studs and window screens with stripes and blocks of bright, warm color, Sigal creates layered, awkwardly angled combinations that lean against or are actually cut out of the walls.
Mixed in are fairly conventional paintings and digital prints of L.A.’s marginal spaces: concrete-lined riverbeds, freeway underpasses and makeshift homeless encampments.
Sigal makes these small paintings “en plein air” with an easel, taking a pastoral approach to decidedly unromantic vistas. While this gesture is interesting — the neglected spaces she documents are the “wilderness” of the city — the resulting images aren’t fully integrated. Pasted on flat grounds or propped on small ledges, they feel like lip service to larger social issues, especially in the case of the homeless settlements.
Still, the layering of different elements is engaging, in particular how the tinted window screens create shifting fields of color that exist only in relation to other surfaces.
In this fleeting space — as a flat abstract shape takes on dimension — the works begin to make sense. They are perhaps what landscape painting looks like when one’s landscape is already an abstraction.
LAXART, 2640 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 559-0166, through Feb. 23. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.laxart.org
INTERACTIVE: Christopher Hawthorne's On the Boulevards
VOTE: What's the best version of 'O Holy Night'?
PHOTOS: Arts and culture in pictures