Alice Könitz

Alice Könitz, Pamela Jorden, and Jeff Ono SAMUEL FREEMAN 2639 South La Cienega Blvd. April 18–May 18

View of “Alice Könitz, Pamela Jorden, and Jeff Ono,” 2013.

Alice Könitz, Pamela Jorden, and Jeff Ono approach the legacy of modernism with an attitude of intimate engagement as much as critique. Alice Könitz’s shimmery wall sculpture, Emblem, 2013, echoes the ziggurat-like form of Dan Flavin’s Monuments to V. Tatlin, 1964–90, albeit in a material that seems to be an ultrareflective gold-tone metal. A closer look reveals it is actually shiny paper, a lightweight, flashy material that causes the work to seem more of a prop than a monument, a made-in-LA revision of the phenomenological concerns and industrial aesthetic that permeate Minimalism.

Jeff Ono’s sculptures display a similar lightness of touch. He forms organic shapes vaguely reminiscent of large-scale outdoor sculpture in materials like cellulose clay, creating a rough surface that seems distinctly handcrafted. These crumpled shapes sit atop quirky geometric bases that are, in the tradition of Constantin Brancusi, part of the complete work. That said, their small scale and jaunty angled legs lends them a distinct domestic look. They almost read as midcentury sofa tables—a playful pun on the high-modernist tradition.

Pamela Jorden’s paintings hark back to abstraction’s earliest pioneers, with saturated color and circle motifs that recall Sonia and Robert Delaunay and jagged forms and short diagonal brushstrokes reminiscent of Fernand Léger. She also draws on the innovations of later abstract painters like Helen Frankenthaler with atmospheric washes and stains that open up pictorial space. Jorden’s relationship with her influences seems the most direct of the three artists in this show. While the sculptors adopt the stance of romantics surveying modernism’s ruins—with interest and affection, but divided by an impassable historical gulf—Jorden picks up the pieces of the past and works with them, creating art that is historically resonant but personal and idiosyncratic, distinctive yet hard to pin down.
Kaveri Nair