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California Biennial, 2004

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The American Desert (for Chuck Jones) by Mungo       Thomson

Florida Keys by Soo       Kim

Impossible: The Flying Project  by Joel        Tauber

Rock Band Project, Newport Beach by Mads        Lynnerup

Who’s Afraid of Black, White, and Grey by Kota        Ezawa

Xanadu (from the series On Other Spaces) by Shirley        Shor

Xanadu (from the series On Other Spaces) by Shirley        Shor
Orange County Museum of Art,
Oct 12, 2004 - Jan 30, 2005
Newport Beach, Ca, USA

California Biennial, 2004
by Eve Wood

Putting together a comprehensive and investigative overview of new California art is daunting to say the least, and as might be expected, the results are compelling though sometimes obvious. Most often with shows of this nature, artists working on the "outside," artists who are over the dreaded age of thirty, those on the periphery of what’s commonly understood, especially in Los Angeles to be the "hipster quotient" (that has sadly come to represent the entirety of the work being created in this city,) is not given voice. Refreshingly, this show is the exception. Artists like Mark Dutcher, Mark Bradford, Josephine Taylor, Mindy Shapero and Simon Evans represent the body and blood of this exhibition, and I would like to have seen more work that asked psychologically charged and often difficult questions of the viewer. It is indeed a sad thing when work that takes its cue from the heart and the body is so underrepresented in the art world, which seems these days to favor the bland, seemingly effortless work of the color-field painters, or those artists who make it a point to divorce the fact of their human existence with all the painful traces of being alive and aware, from their practice.

Mark Dutcher, who shows with the pioneering Solway Jones Gallery in LA, is represented here with an extraordinary sculptural work entitled "The Fools," a wax and wire assemblage of a sort of intrepid rose bush that resonates far beyond its own floral intentions, to become something altogether ethereal and wondrous. This work stands on its own as it is, without reason or traceable and easily delineated signposts that read " this is my vision of the world drawn from a series of conclusions based upon computer generated imagery that relates specifically to nothing personal, no private associations or translations, and was in fact constructed by someone else whom I hired because I was too busy creating an image of the person I one day hope to become." Nope. Dutcher is the real thing, and is certainly not afraid to pull from the interior, to prioritize his own discomfort in the service of a larger, more complicated aesthetic, and this is ultimately very comforting. His large painting "Oh My Man I Love Him So," is both a rhapsodic love song to the dead as well as a personal indictment against a darker impulse toward self destruction. Running in the same vein is the work of Simon Evans, whose intricate mappings of strange other-worldly places are obviously drawn from the artist’s imagination. While the maps he constructs are weirdly comic, they also contain within them a strong undercurrent of violence and political unrest. Is this the land George W. Bush refuses to visit, or is Evans vision bizarrely hopeful? Perhaps if we looked harder at the world we’ve created, we would come to understand our part in it. Evan’s piece "All That’s Wrong With Sex," is incisive and funny, proclaiming its handwritten sentences ("like fighting only wetter," and "all that energy and time") that read like a heartbreaking laundry list denoting the complications inherent not only in the sex act, but in the supposedly desirable transfiguration of sex into love. Evan’s like Dutcher gives voice to all that goes unspoken, to the secrets we live by.

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