Edgardo Aragn, "Mensaje 5 (no moriras)," 2007 - 2011. (Josh White / Honor Fraser…)
The flip side of enduring summer’s spate of grab-bag group exhibitions is getting to see work by new artists. “Acirema,” at Honor Fraser, provides a fine platform for eight talented artists of Latin American origin, several exhibiting in L.A. for the first time. The show is light on its feet, despite a ponderous rationale.
The title of the exhibition is “America” spelled backwards, which curator Cesar Garcia intends to signal an alternative to dominant modes of thinking. However, the selected works invoke a very familiar system of knowledge — that of global conceptual art. With artists hailing from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Mexico, the show ends up reinforcing rather than puncturing the contours of that grab-bag place, Latin America.
That said, the exhibition does offer several compelling, if not particularly novel takes on landscape. Edgardo Aragón’s photographs of spiritual messages constructed out of twigs and embedded in rural scenes are both local and transcendent. Liliana Velez’s rectangles of diaphanous skin-colored silk are stitched with hair — an overused strategy to be sure — but crinkle nicely into maps of waterways, or perhaps varicose veins. And a 14-minute video by Marcellvs L. is best caught in midstream, as a wide shot of a rocky, snowbound landscape slowly reveals a pony silhouetted among its crags.
Works by Firelei Baez, Marina Camargo, Tomas Fernandez and Jose Antonio Vega Macotela round out the show, but most delightful is an enigmatic sculpture by Cesar Gonzalez. Arranged across a room-filling pedestal, Gonzalez’s quirky, somewhat skewed cardboard polyhedrons are titled “Space’s Background (Forms).” Reminiscent in some cases of Gabriel Orozco’s altered soccer balls, they feel more like models from a wayward physics experiment: What does, indeed, form the background of space? Whatever it is, perhaps some chunks might fall off, fold in on themselves, and pop out into the foreground.
Honor Fraser, 2622 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 837-0191, through Aug. 25. Closed Sundays and Monday. www.honorfraser.com