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Review: Richard Deacon's paper works upend expectations

March 14, 2013|By David Pagel
  • "Richard Deacon: Beware of the Dog," installation view at L.A. Louver.
"Richard Deacon: Beware of the Dog," installation view at L.A.… (L.A. Louver )

It’s rare to look at a drawing and think you’re looking at a painting. It’s even rarer to look at a work on paper and think you’re in the presence of a sculpture.

That’s what happens at L.A. Louver, where British artist Richard Deacon is having his fifth solo show in Los Angeles. Among the most talented sculptors working today, the protean artist uses materials in such unexpected ways that his works make you shed expectations and see the world with fresh eyes.

In Deacon’s last four exhibitions, he has used clay, titanium and rubber, as well as wood, bronze and aluminum, to make wonderfully puzzling, sensually satisfying and intellectually invigorating sculptures. This time around he focuses his considerable energies on paper, transforming that common material into three uncommonly beautiful bodies of work.

FULL COVERAGE: 2013 Spring arts preview

Nine monochrome and duotone screen-prints enact caterpillar-to-butterfly moments when lines become shapes and shapes become spaces and our knowledge of things bumps up against their sensuality.

The mundane pleasure and cathartic charge of crumpling up a sheet of paper and tossing it in the trash takes graceful form in four wall reliefs. Each also recalls rumpled bed sheets and the bodies that left them.

Deacon’s nine freestanding pieces steal the show. Each consists of large sheets of handmade paper that he has marbled by dipping them into baths of colorful inks. Gently folding each dried sheet into a four-, five-, six- or seven-sided roll, Deacon has fastened these parts together, sometimes in pairs or trios, but more often in clusters of six or more.

None is like another. And no two sections of any one suggest anything like repetition. The lack of pattern is thrilling.

A virtuoso at making uncategorizable objects that invite us to experience them for ourselves, Deacon lets his art do the talking.

L.A. Louver, 45 N. Venice Blvd., (310) 822-4955, through March 30. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.lalouver.com

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