Art review: Jan Albers at 1301PE

At 1301PE, German artist Jan Albers uses industrial materials — chiefly polystyrene, the stuff of packing peanuts — to create textured wall pieces that evoke dramatic, craggy landscapes or tortured, ravaged flesh. Often colored an unnatural shade of magenta or a sickly beige, these chaotic surfaces are contained in paradoxically clean geometric shapes encased, Petri dish-like, in clear Plexiglas.

At first they seem a bit corporate, the kind of visually engaging but innocuous abstraction that adorns bank lobbies. However, Albers provides clues in the form of close-up photographs of bruised arms and fingers that give the works a more sinister edge.

Tubes or cylinders embedded in many of the pieces suggest muscle fibers or blood vessels, as if we're looking at a damaged cross section of flesh. And the palette, despite its more histrionic extremes, seems largely inspired by the bruise. Even a few works consisting of all-over grids of interlocking wedge shapes are painted in shades that run from moldy green to rich plum.

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It's this tension between geometric rigor and the messy efflorescence of injury and healing that compels. Transforming the bruise into an abstract, aesthetic object contains and sanitizes it, removing implications of wrongdoing or blame. In some ways there's no better analogue for corporate interests. Yet at the same time, Albers' work suggests how the corporate and corporeal are hopelessly sutured together.

1301PE, 6150 Wilshire Blvd., (323) 938-5822, through April 26. Closed Sundays and Mondays.


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