If anyone knows me, they know how much I hate the rain. I mean yes sure, the rain is good, the rain is what we need, blah blah blah, but let’s be real; the rain is gross AF when and if you actually have to step outside. So on the rare rainy day in Los Angeles, the last thing I wanted to do was go outside, but since I had already confirmed to meet up at LACMA, apparently that was what I was going to do.
I’ve been to LACMA numerous times in the last few years, and to be honest I wasn’t expecting anything new. They have the Latin American section, the indigenous section, and the usual Picasso and Warhol pieces I see every time I’m there, so naturally I was preparing myself for a repeat. That is, until we entered the “L.A. Exuberance: New Gifts by Artists” exhibit. And boy, for the first time in my life, I was so very glad that I got out in the rain on that miserable day.
The “L.A. Exuberance: New Gifts by Artists” is a mix of contemporary, quirky and powerful all the same. Before you even walk in, my favourite part was a large orange carrot that is almost as tall as me that hangs at entrance of the exhibit. It’s like they knew how to capture my attention right from the start.
Firstly, let's talk about the curation of the space, which by all means, made me never want to leave. The walls were sparse, with artworks well spaced out so you really got a chance to look at and feel each artwork without being distracted by the artworks next to it. Most walls had a maximum of two pieces of art on it, a rare feat at most museums. Whilst most museums tend to use space to their advantage by fitting as much art as possible in spaces, I think LACMA’s contemporary exhibits are successful because they do exactly the opposite. They leave the space open, breathable, and most importantly, an exhibit such as this one was created in a way that was easy on the eye, aesthetically speaking.
Talking about aesthetics, most of the artworks were powerful, whilst others were minimalistic. Few, were heavily saturated, however, these pieces were balanced out by the vast collection of artworks that sported neutral hues. Particularly interesting was the mix of installation, sculpture, paintings and photography, and the variety of textures amidst each artwork that really allows you to explore a range of art-making practices within the space.By far, my favorite art piece, besides the very quirky carrot that hung outside, was an equally unique piece that was placed right in the center of the space. Believe it or not, it was three pieces of marble draped on a plank of wood. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The artist, clearly pushing the boundaries between optics and solid materials, had created a piece in which the artwork still retained the visual aspects of solid marble, yet still, it has a certain malleable nature to it which almost made the pieces of marble look like soft towels that had been draped over wood.
Another must-see artwork was a huge pile of sand, (similar to one on view at the Guggenheim in New York) that sits in the middle of one of the other sections of the exhibit. Almost right away, this piece made me think of sand-castle’s and it took me straight back to my childhood, and perhaps my favorite part of the exhibit as a whole was it’s ability to juxtapose these child-like pieces that make you want go in there and touch it, along with high-art concepts that engage thought amongst the viewers.
The photographs and digital art, however, were by far the most powerful art pieces I have ever seen at LACMA. There was one series that particularly caught my eye, that was composed of multiple frames, and on a black piece of paper sat tiny white text with controversial imagery. One of the frames read: “A photo showing one man holding another man’s genitals,” and as confrontational as these messages were, to me, they needed to be there, because it is artists like these who are truly defining today’s contemporary art world. Relative to this artwork, what I thought was so wonderful about this exhibit as a whole was that it really showed people that art is not just about looking aesthetically pleasing, in fact, it is anything but. Throughout the exhibit there were other photographic pieces that addressed issues of race and discrimination, along with more conceptual pieces, and each an every artwork in the space created an exhibit that did exactly what art is supposed to do; it confronted, it provoked, it pushed boundaries, and more importantly, it forced the viewer to think a little deeper.
All in all, this exhibit was a breeze to walk through all thanks to the carefully curated space that created a creatively cohesive space. The exhibit showcased a variety of mediums, and really defined art in today’s contemporary era. The artwork was fun and powerful, even for those who aren’t fine art enthusiasts. There was definitely something for everyone in this exhibit, I mean, a giant sized carrot, what more do you need?! Honestly, how many times do you get to see a carrot, the size of a human being hanging at one of the most famous museums in the world?
“L.A. Exuberance: New Gifts by Artists” October 30, 2016 - April 2, 2017 Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036