Other Worlds – Charlie James Gallery, Chinatown LA

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In the basement of the Charlie James Gallery in LA’s Chinatown, the unexpected:

Descending into the magical neon-tinted cavern, it becomes obvious that pieces are not presented, but instead stashed throughout the environs. Chelsea Boxwell’s Keep It Locked Up Inside was an embodiment of this enthralling choice of display; not only was the richly colorized and glittery canvas wrapped into a tube to form a vertical element, it emitted its own fairy-like light which no doubt drew onlookers to inspect the floor to ceiling fixture. One couldn’t help but wonder to what extent the color-soaked, acrylic-laced fabric was supporting the roof itself. While somewhat reminiscent of the larger-than-life works of Sarah Cain, Boxwell’s freestanding presentation, which led observers to keep circling, harbored more dynamism.

Heidi Kidon’s Overcharged Ornament with Appropriated Glow injected a verdant luminosity into the room, but one tinged with a decidedly techno-noir vibe. Its glowing geometric-industrial shapes were seemingly pulled from a Bladrunner-esque world of glossy promises inextricably coupled with severe reality. Osvaldo Trujillo’s Crash presented a hybrid of light emission and detail work which inspired a close look and wishful touch. An obvious dystopic vibe proliferated from the collection of mechanical forms arrayed along the bottom of the piece, though hope persisted as well in the form of a soft fuchsia radiance. Similarly, Esther Ruiz’s Summer Sun added an amber ebullience to the space, though the piece’s cement base served as a reminder of man’s obsession with regulating the untamed natural world.

Indeed, while the various illuminated pieces provided light to examine the carefully curated maelstrom of work, other pieces such as Anaeis Ohanian’s Objekthood installation provided a different sort of seduction, in the form of a window to what is perhaps an ominous manifestation of the same exhibition room but from another dimension. The glow from the flat panel television radiated off of two raggedy tufted columns which seemed to evade gravity, and the resulting combination exuded a restless and somewhat forlorn version of civilization’s desperate future.

Another angle to the exhibition were the physical design elements, which invited admirers to wrap themselves in the dreamlike atmosphere around them. Jaime Scholnick’s The Bloody Glove Ottoman incorporated mid-century elements, which melted together into a vortex of colors which seemed to want to swallow one whole; it seemed to suggest while we may be allowed to dream of the future, certain outcomes cannot be uncoupled from past transgressions. Durazo’s own Mothership Lounger provided not only a respite from the airs of formality normally associated with an exhibition, but also bathed participants in unexpected air currents, illicit colors and sensuous furry textures that simply begged to be fondled.

Though unfortunately limited in size and scope, the experience was one that will leave a blazing impression on the retinas along with a deep, foreboding groove in the mind.The alcove proved to be a treasure trove of luxurious textures accompanied by an orgy of buzzing colors meant to sear the senses. This was not simply an artistic presentation; it was a step into an ethereal world which begged to be consumed.

Featuring:  Maura Bendette, Chelsea Boxwell, Mike Dee, Martin Durazo, HELL-(O), Rachel Lauren Kaster, Heidi Kidon, Thinh Nguyen, Lindsey Nobel, Dakota Noot, Anaeis Ohanian, Esther Ruiz, Jaime Scholnick, Emily Silver, Thaddeus Strode, and Osvaldo Trujillo.

Guest Contributor – A.K. Hirsch

Other Worlds
Curated by Martin Durazo
Charlie James Gallery
969 Chung King Road, Los Angeles, CA 90012
July 21-August 18, 2018

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