Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Ten Most UNDERRATED Los Angeles Art World Stars

    Mat Gleason, for the Huffinton Post's new Art section, wrote a funny piece (that I wrote about recently) on the Ten Most OVERRATED Los Angeles Art World Stars.
    To his credit, he's now taken on the much tougher job of saying nice things and really putting himself on the line with his latest post: The Ten Most UNDERRATED Los Angeles Art World Stars.
    I've been away from Los Angeles for almost thirty years now, so it's more difficult for me to assess his choices. But once again I agree with almost all of them -- at least the ones I know. George Herms is an excellent choice, as are Llyn Foulkes (who's work I've been seeing more often lately, so I'm not sure how underrated he still is) and Michael McMillen. I'm not familiar with Eloy Torres, Kim Dingle and Daniel Martinez -- at least I don't remember seeing their work. As to the others, one can certainly make a case for them being under-appreciated.
Charles Garabedian, The Meeting of Greece and China, 1970, wood, acrylic, and polyester resin, 97 x 59 1/2 inches, Collection of the Artist.
    My main objection -- and it's a big one -- is leaving out Charles Garabedian, whom I consider to be among the most vital living artists.
    Maybe Garabedian is highly rated in Los Angeles -- he is having a major retrospective in the Santa Barbara Museum in January, and he shows with L.A. Louver, one of the best galleries in Los Angeles, and Betty Cunningham, one of the best galleries in New York -- but I doubt that's it. The major LA Museums have all but ignored him.
    And he is a great artist. Take The Meeting of Greece and China (see photo above). It's hard to capture the raw muscular energy of this work in reproduction. The only thing comparable for me, in terms of the shock of seeing it, is Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. The painting (if it can be called that) is more than eight feet tall and is made up of slats of wood laminated together like butcher block that's been cut into and inlaid with resin. There is nothing pretty or elegant here -- it's one tough painting -- and it was made in 1970 when Minimalism and Conceptualism were at their peak.
    Over his 50-year plus career, Garabedian's work has mostly been narrative in some form or another, but he's worked in a wide range of materials and methods, and his invention is staggering. A good place to see a sampling of his work is the L.A.Louver Gallery website. Check it out and see if you agree.

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