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January 17, 2010

Reviews by Christopher Knight (C.K.) and David Pagel (D.P.). Compiled by Grace Krilanovich.

Critics' Choices

Nathaniel de Large: at large De Large is a light-handed junk-picker whose search for quirky stuff is only the beginning of an out-of-step quest to refashion the world into a playground for the imagination. Wonder, spiked with a shot of gentle absurdity, is the Holy Grail he coaxes into existence with his DIY inventions. The L.A. artist gets viewers to experience the world as a loopy adventure, a meandering journey filled with serendipitous twists and wonderful turns that keep us on our toes, almost dancing (D.P.). Cirrus Gallery, 542 S. Alameda St., L.A. Tue.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; ends Jan. 30. (213) 680-3473.

Kristen Morgin: Cellos Melancholy does not merely waft into the atmosphere from Morgin's elaborately crafted clay, wire and wood sculptures. It pours forth in torrents, filling the gallery with sadness that it is palpable and almost unbearable. And that's just the beginning. The powerful first impression made by these loaded works from 2001 gives way to less obvious, more nuanced emotions. They simmer slowly and resonate deeply. All of Morgin's sculptures appear to have endured well beyond their best years, persisting in the face of great difficulty and reconciling themselves to diminished expectations. Pragmatic and wise, they capture the tenor of our times (D.P.). Marc Selwyn Fine Art, 6222 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 101, L.A. Tue.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; ends Sat. (323) 933-9911.


Dan Bayles: New Paintings Bayles builds on the merger of landscape and abstraction that characterized his earlier imaginative paintings of U.S. Embassy buildings in Baghdad. He paints picture windows whose often apocalyptic view to the outside world is obscured, whether by Venetian blinds, apparently dirty glass, security bars or visual debris in the form of confetti-like chunks of drifting color-shapes. Distinctions between outdoors and indoors are not clear, creating a sense of claustrophobic calamity that is as much psychological as actual, internal as well as external (C.K.). Fran├žois Ghebaly/Chung King Project, 510 Bernard St., L.A. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wed.-Sat.; ends Sat. (323) 221-2300.

Drew Heitzler: for Sailors, Mermaids, Mystics. for Kustomizers, Grinders, Fender-men. for Fools, Addicts, Woodworkers and Hustlers. Heitzler's new triptych of three appropriated Hollywood films re-edited and transferred to video is an elaborate, highly stylized bit of historical theater. Think of it as mass-media kabuki. The multiple screens, choice of black-and-white pictures and youthful movie stars together seem meant to recall Andy Warhol's films, which he began to make in 1963. In the jumbled, fragmented, radically condensed narrative, love on the rocks bleeds into insanity, interspersed with postwar American car culture. The three parts layer the subtle shifts between the Beat Generation and the Pop era as the early 1960s unfolded (C.K.). Blum & Poe, 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A. Tue.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; ends Jan. 30. (310) 836-2062.

Glenn Ligon: Off Book The show's news is a short film in which Ligon reenacted the final scene from Thomas Edison and Edwin S. Porter's 1903 silent movie "Uncle Tom's Cabin," an adaptation of a racist blackface stage show familiar to audiences in its time. Ligon's version is, like his paintings, entirely abstract -- a series of smudged blurs, flashes of white and ragged black shapes, all set to a piano soundtrack. Often the flickering imagery looks like an X-ray of a human body, set in jittery motion. The cinematic struggle between black and white, dark and light, transforms social strife and moral conflict into an exquisite space for contemplation (C.K.). Regen Projects II, 9016 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; ends Sat. (310) 276-5424.

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