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Monthly Art Column – November 2017

Dinh Q. Lê: “The Scrolls: Distortion” is on exhibit at Schoshana Wayne Gallery through Dec. 23.   This is the artist’s 7th solo exhibition at the gallery. “The Scrolls Distortion” is a continuation of the artist’s work dealing with memory. Previous series focused on fragmented memory or piecing together/reconciling of painful histories while this exhibit emphasizes memory as a landscape. Lê was born in Vietnam in 1968 and his family moved to the United States in 1978. He returned to Vietnam in the 1990s and currently resides in Ho Chi Minh City.

In the main gallery, Lê’s photographs, which are an incredible 164 feet long and 4 foot wide, are draped over metal cylinders that hang from the ceiling. The ends of the images pile up like waves on both sides of a white platform that sits below. The portraits are elongated and distorted; you have to look hard at times to decipher the images. It reminds me of what happens when you press Silly Putty against a Saturday morning newspaper cartoon and stretch it, only the colors of the Le’ photos are vibrant and not faded copies. Just like memories and dreams – recollection blurs, change and are harder to recall over time. Landscapes, like memories change over time as well, they shift, erode and reconstruct to form new vistas. The scale images are so immense they actually become sculpture as much as photography.

“The Scrolls Distortion” Scroll, 1968” x 50”, C-Print, 2017, Photographed by Jeff Davis

The photo rolls are filled with both Lê’s images and those taken from Hollywood films about Vietnam, a prison camp in Cambodia and portions of murals from the Cambodian Royal Palace. The images are stretched sideways, inverted and merged with other snapshots to create a collage. You can pick out sections of soldiers, upside down monks, skulls, women cloaked in hoods and other elongated building fragments (some are undecipherable). The majority of the photographs are actually unseen, furled like a sail at the base. It would be interesting to display the works using a looping conveyor belt placed against the gallery wall in order to view the hidden portions of the images.

“The Scrolls Distortion” Installation, photos furled on the base, Photo courtesy of Shoshana Wayne gallery.

In the second, smaller annex of the gallery five of artist’s woven works are presented. They are a merger of the Khmer Rouge’s S-21 prison and murals of a Cambodian Epic poem. These works are more approachable in terms of size and you can take in the entire picture, although like the hanging photos they are distorted. The weaving of the two images creates a sense of pixilation or digitization that requires one to step back and reform the image or try to separate the combined work into the components.

Cracked Reamaker, 2017, C-Print and linen tape, 68” x 48 7/16” x 2 7/16”. Photo courtesy Shoshana Wayne Gallery.

Other Opportunities:

The Hawthorne Arts Complex is having an open studio party on Dec. 2 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. and Dec. 3 from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. Don’t miss this opportunity to visit the studios of the 30 artists and see their works and studios in person. Artists include painters, photographers, ceramicist, fiber art and jewelry makers. There will be music, food and entertainment as well. Admission is free and there is ample parking on site. 13040 Cerise Avenue, Hawthorne, CA 90250. Artists will also have the opportunity to tour 40,000 square foot facility and the 50 newly constructed studios.  More information about HAC is available on Facebook.

The Broad still has standby tickets available for Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors. Tickets are available every day except Mondays and the best odds are achieved by arriving VERY early on Tuesdays through Thursdays; additional hours have also been added during the holidays. The exhibit encompasses six of Kusama’s mirrored infinity rooms, kaleidoscope environments, large scale installations, key paintings, sculptures and works on paper the 1950s to the present. Please note, you have to wait in line for each individual infinity room once inside the museum and the experience lasts about 30 seconds per room (If you like waiting in lines at Disney you’ll love this!). The exhibit is travelling through seven North American museums from 2017 – 2019.

Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room – “All the Eternal Love I hate for the Pumpkins”, 2016. Photographed courtesy of Ota fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London.

Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room – “Love Transformed into Dots”, 2007. Photographed courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London.; David Zimmer, New York.


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