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Review: 'Bush of Ghosts' artists inject unexpected, effective humor

July 30, 2012|By David Pagel
  • Nathan Mabry, "Process Art (Deadgifthigh/Descendant/Equestrian CIX)," 2012, bronze and stainless steel.
Nathan Mabry, "Process Art (Deadgifthigh/Descendant/Equestrian… (From Nathan Mabry and Cherry…)

At Cherry and Martin, a three-artist show takes visitors back to school. But rather than educating us about anything, “Bush of Ghosts” treats the pranks students play as an art form.

No one does this better than Nathan Mabry, whose life-size bronze sculpture of a cowboy astride a bucking bronco would be right at home in any collection of Western art, except that the cowboy’s head has been replaced by that of a ferocious monster, its fang-filled mouth open wide. Nearly 12 feet tall, Mabry’s statue makes Frederic Remington look as hip — and significantly more ambitious — than many young sculptors, who seem to want nothing more than for their work to be accepted as "unmonumental."

Two paintings by Yugoslavia-born, London-based Djordje Ozbolt turn serious styles of representation into anti-authoritarian comedies.

A weirder, more diffuse sense of humor animates an assemblage by New Zealand-born, London-based Francis Upritchard. “The Horse” uses an antique piece of gymnastic equipment and a plaid blanket as a pedestal for three pint-sized sculptures: a nude man, mug and cap.

Art, like college pranks, is often most effective when it’s unexpected. Its consequences always are.

Cherry and Martin, 2712 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 559-0100, through Aug. 25. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.cherryandmartin.com

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