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The Galleries

La Cienega Area

December 11, 1987|SUZANNE MUCHNIC

Kiyo Higashi's new gallery would be worth a trip if it didn't have a single artwork in it. That's because it's an art space designed by Larry Bell, a principal figure in Los Angeles' celebrated light-and-space school and a longtime resident of Taos, N.M. Exterior aspects of the modest Spanish-style house are unfinished, but the interior has been transformed into a white environment of leaning doors, tapered walls, rounded corners, slots of light and surprising windows. The effect is, by turns, contemplative and refreshing.

The inaugural show focuses on Bell's new "Corner Lamps," a rather pedestrian name for floor-to-ceiling sculptures that vary with light conditions while assuming an ethereal presence. Each has an upright painted wood base that fits into a corner or sits a short distance from it. A triangle or quarter-circle of glass coated with metallic deposits bisects each, casting ribbons of light and color above and below. At night, under projected light, the illumination is strikingly dramatic; in daylight, it's far more subtle and elusive. Beveled edges, metallic deposits, colored back-lighting and the possibility of reversing the glass panels add intriguing variables that lend an air of uncontained magic. (Kiyo Higashi, 8332 Melrose Ave., to Jan. 30.)

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