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THE ART GALLERIES

Wilshire Center

January 24, 1986|KRISTINE McKENNA

Minimalist sculpture heaves a dying, shuddering sigh in an exhibition by Serge Spitzer. Spitzer describes his work as being about territories and traps, but to read these concepts into this threadbare exhibition requires the kind of indulgence one can expect only of one's mother and closest friends.

A reductive sculptor in the tradition of Carl Andre and Richard Serra, Spitzer espouses an austere, industrial aesthetic that seems dated and dull. Art renews itself by inventing fresh challenges for itself; emptying a gallery but for a warped sheet of lumber or a few paper bags is a challenge that was met and laid to rest many moons ago.

Though Spitzer has an established career in Europe, this is his first L.A. show. He debuts with an installation and a room of drawings. The six drawings are composed of pairs of paper bags (generic variety, suitable for a packed lunch) that have been splashed with runny washes of black paint and tacked to the wall. The accompanying installation is a bit more flamboyant, but it, too, is marked by a rigorous severity. The room feels like a map with no-nonsense art objects as reference points.

Among them: four large flat-to-the-wall sculptures involving black and ochre abstractions framed under glass, then fitted together to form geometric grids; a small hunk of wood cut up and reassembled in the shape of a lopsided doughnut; a couple of the paper bag drawings. In a corner high above eye level we find a bunch of painted black boards arranged on a net of steel cables tethered to a concrete pillar. These puzzling components never quite congeal into art. Moreover, the labyrinthine mind game this work plays feels as worn out as a trashed deck of cards. (Burnett Miller, 964 N. La Brea Ave., to Feb. 22.)

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