10 Shows to See in Los Angeles This April

This month’s selections of art to see in and around Los Angeles examine the human condition through a range of lenses, from the corporeal to the psychological. Clayton Schiff’s oddball protagonists find echoes in the complicated characters of Maurice Sendak’s children’s books. Ry Rocklen and Marc Camille Chaimowicz both mine the stuff of our everyday lives, finding magic in the mundane. Merrick Morton, Tavares Strachan, and Goya, through quite distinct practices, chronicle grand and personal histories, shedding light on stories that might not otherwise be told.

Clayton Schiff: Routing

Clayton Schiff’s surreal canvases depict cartoonish human-beast hybrids in scenes characterized by narrative ambiguity: drifting alone in a rowboat at night or strolling down a path that branches off into a maze of freeway ramps. These figures swing between existential dread and hopeful curiosity, capturing the tragi-comic essence of the human condition. His current exhibition at Harkawik is aptly titled Routing, which can convey orderly travel and networks of information, as well as disorganized withdrawal and defeat on a field of battle.

Harkawik (harkawik.com)
5538 Santa Monica Boulevard, East Hollywood, Los Angeles
Through April 13

Tavares Strachan: Magnificent Darkness

Tavares Strachan employs a range of materials — bronze, marble, hair, neon, and sound — to explore themes of light and darkness in his current exhibition at Marian Goodman’s new LA space. The show extends the artist’s ongoing research project begun in 2018, The Encyclopedia of Invisibility, which unearths forgotten or overlooked histories related to the African diaspora. To this end, Magnificent Darkness includes ceramic sculptures of important figures such as Nina Simone, assassinated anti-Apartheid activist Steve Biko, and Matthew Henson, an African-American explorer who discovered the North Pole; a neon and audio piece with a composition based on the writings of James Baldwin; and “galaxy paintings” that draw parallels to unseen forces at play in the cosmos.

Marian Goodman Gallery (mariangoodman.com)
1120 Seward Street, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Through April 13

Ry Rocklen: Sand Box Living and Shelf Life

Ry Rocklen’s practice largely involves uncovering the extraordinary within the ordinary, and his steadfast commitment to the everyday currently spreads across two galleries in LA. Shelf Life at Wilding Cran includes wall-mounted mosaics, mundane Mondrians cast from bath tissue, paper towels, and pizza crusts, while the gallery floor is littered with shiny aluminum versions of Ritz crackers, goldfish, and saltines. Sand Box Living at the nearby Night Gallery features shoebox-sized ceramic sculptures based on Jackrabbit homestead cabins in the Mojave desert, inside which Rocklen has placed replica Reeboks, creating a scale shift that is at once whimsical and unsettling.

Night Gallery South (nightgallery.ca)
2276 East 16th Street, Downtown, Los Angeles
Through April 20

Wilding Cran Gallery (wildingcran.com)
1700 Santa Fe Avenue, Unit 460, Downtown, Los Angeles
Through May 4

Marc Camille Chaimowicz: Emma Dreaming of California

For over five decades, Marc Camille Chaimowicz has been blurring the boundaries between art and design, creating works that fuse sculpture, paintings, video, and installation. Emma Dreaming of California is a playful reimagination of Gustave Flaubert’s 1857 novel Madame Bovary, transporting the novel’s ill-fated heroine, Emma Bovary, from France to sunny Los Angeles. Juxtaposing eye-popping patterns, collages cut from fashion magazines, and assemblages of furniture and objects, Chaimowicz creates a complex portrait of Emma’s internal life, while offering her a more optimistic alternate ending.

Gaga and Reena Spaulings LA (gagareena.com)
6916 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Through April 20

Elizabeth Glaessner: Now You’re a Lake

Elizabeth Glaessner has long used waterlines in her paintings to refer to the threshold between dream and reality, id and ego, this world and the next. She foregrounds this theme in her first exhibition at Ghebaly, giving it equal prominence as the ubiquitous female figures whom she renders with a sensuous monumentality and vibrant color scheme. Within this framework, Glaessner often recasts characters from familiar stories and myths, including Narcissus, the riddle of the Sphinx, and Nut, the Egyptian goddess of the sky.

François Ghebaly (ghebaly.com)
2245 East Washington Boulevard, Downtown, Los Angeles
April 6–May 11

Merrick Morton: Un-Rehearsed

Merrick Morton began photographing street gangs in South and East Los Angeles in 1980, drawn to cultures that seemed a world away from the San Fernando Valley, where he grew up. Since then, he has documented daily life in prisons and California state psychiatric hospitals, villages in Mexico and Cuba, and actors on the sets of films including Fight Club (1999), The Big Lebowski (1998), and La Bamba (1987), always portraying his subjects with respect and honesty. Un-Rehearsed showcases a cross-section of works from throughout his career, as well as “Life of a Cholo,” a collaboration of poetry and photography with actor and poet Richard Cabral.

Eastern Projects (easternprojectsgallery.com)
900 North Broadway, Suite 1090, Chinatown, Los Angeles
March 30–May 18

Seguimos: Contemporary Art in Costa Rica

Seguimos is a group exhibition featuring 13 contemporary artists from Costa Rica, many of whom are well-known in Central America but have not previously shown in the US. Co-curated with Hannah Sloan, the exhibition explores themes of the body, identity, and site, showcasing a broad range of media including installation, video, photography, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. The intergenerational group of participating artists includes Priscilla Romero-Cubero, Lucía Howell, Alina González, Allegra Pacheco, La Cholla Jackson, and others.

Craig Krull Gallery (craigkrullgallery.com)
2525 Michigan Avenue, Suite B3, Santa Monica, California
March 30–May 18

Sargent Claude Johnson

California African-American artist Sargent Claude Johnson was a seminal figure of the West Coast counterpart to the Harlem Renaissance, whose sculptures, paintings, and public artworks portrayed Black figures with dignity and grace. The Huntington’s retrospective, the first solo show of his work in 25 years, features 43 artworks in ceramic, oil, stone, and wood, spanning his career from the Great Depression to the Civil Rights Movement. Notably, the exhibition features his massive carved redwood “Organ Screen” (1933–34), which he created for the California School for the Blind in Berkeley, on view alongside his other commissions for the school.

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens (huntington.org)
1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, California
Through May 20

Wild Things Are Happening: The Art of Maurice Sendak

At the Skirball, this comprehensive survey of the work of Maurice Sendak will feature more than 150 drawings, storyboards, and paintings. The exhibition includes artworks related to his beloved children’s books including Where the Wild Things Are (1963), In the Night Kitchen (1970), and Outside Over There (1981), alongside his illustrations for books by other authors and designs for opera, television, and film. The show also explores his collaborations with Spike Jonze, Tony Kushner, Twyla Tharp, and other creatives, as well as his own inspirations, from Shakespeare to Herman Melville.

Skirball Cultural Center (skirball.org)
2701 North Sepulveda Boulevard, Brentwood, Los Angeles
April 18–September 1

I Saw It: Francisco de Goya, Printmaker

Highlighting his range of printmaking techniques and varied subject matter, I Saw It brings together Goya’s four major print series: Caprichos (1799), Desastres de la Guerra (c. 1810–15), La Tauromaquia (1815–16), and Los Disparates (c. 1815–23). Taken together, these works reveal the Spanish painter as both a wry satirist who used art to shed light on abuses of power and the horrors of war and as a fantasist who deftly depicted terrifying and wondrous visions. The exhibition also features complementary works by modern and contemporary artists, including Leon Golub, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol, who similarly address social and political injustices.

Norton Simon Museum (nortonsimon.org)
411 West Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, California
April 19–August 5

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