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Review: Wry works in wood by Abel Barroso at Couturier

November 27, 2012|By Leah Ollman
  • Abel Barroso's "Where is My Home" at Couturier Gallery
Abel Barroso's "Where is My Home" at Couturier Gallery (Courtesy Couturier Gallery )

A generation of Cuban artists (Kcho, Tania Bruguera, Los Carpinteros among them) came of age in the late 1980s and early '90s, their work taking up themes of national history, myth and ideology, the conditions of freedom, suppression and isolation, the prickly question of emigration. Thanks to a variety of cultural and political factors, the '90s were steeped in museum and gallery exhibitions of their work. Totalizing surveys are rarer these days, though the territory remains fertile, as evidenced by the ongoing program at Couturier Gallery.

 The work of Abel Barroso (b.1971) has been featured twice at the gallery over the past dozen years. "There's No Place Like Home" is his first solo show here and its title winks as satirically as its contents. Barroso, whose primary materials are wood and ink, uses the format of games and toys, instruments of play and pleasure, to wryly address issues such as freedom of movement, the ability to cross borders or to procure a visa. One sculpture takes the form of a foosball table; another, a wall-mounted wood veneer piece, mimics a wheel of fortune dispensing a variety of fates according to the whims of luck and chance. Barroso's symbolism tends toward the heavy-handed, but his work abounds in poignant humor and his sculptures, derived from the practice of woodcuts, have terrific immediacy and graphic punch.

Couturier Gallery, 166 N. La Brea Ave., (323) 933-5557, through Dec. 1. Closed Sunday and Monday. www.couturiergallery.com

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