Starting Saturday, AF Projects in Los Angeles presents Attending to the Bats, an exhibition of work from Tom Lawson, dean of the CalArts School of Art and editor of the online contemporary art magazine East of Borneo.
AF projects describes Lawson as an artist “invested in the politics of painting” whose “experiments disrupting image, perception, palette, [and] temporality calls meaning into question.” The colorful pieces in this latest exhibit were all made in the last six years and include a number of serialized and coordinating pieces, such as Roman Head I through VII (2016), Party Boy (2014) and Party girl (2014) as well as two different pieces titled White Tree (2019).
In an email to 24700, Lawson writes about his work and practice:
My studio practice is based on the consideration of images in public circulation–news, advertising, social media platforms. I’m interested in what people are thinking about, looking at. Then, in thinking about what that means, and what might be a contrary position. And why.
I think that in one way or another I am always attuned to the moment.
These last few years have been particularly troubling. Because of the politics, but also the volume and ever-presentness, the constant public raging, lying, bullying. A question: how to continue to paint in a meaningful way in such a context?
I found myself thinking about Goya’s etching, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters–a sleeping artist, besieged by bats ad owls and sundry monsters. This, in turn, took me to his court paintings, an apparent parade of bad consciousness–people in power preening and showing off, bullying through ostentatious display. And so, I found a way to restart painting, using a mix of contemporary news sources, with additional references to bats, veils, umbrellas, and a generally dark palette.
More recently, the umbrellas have taken on a new resonance because of the protests in Hong Kong.
The extensive exhibition history of Lawson’s work includes solo shows at the Dallas Biennial (2014); Participant Inc (2009); LAXART, Los Angeles (2007); Third Eye Centre, Glasgow and Battersea Arts Centre, London (1990); and the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, California (1987). In addition to inclusion in many prestigious group exhibitions, Lawson’s work resides in the public collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and Tate, London, among others.
AF Projects is a collaboration between Ayse Amal and LA-based curator Lauri Fistenberg. Opened in 2019, their aim was to create a new art hub in Hollywood and “a space for encounters between various forms of art, cultural and people.” AF Projects lives inside the already existing Louise Alexander Gallery, which has shown internationally-acclaimed contemporary artists over the last decade. While the Louise Alexander Gallery features a roster of mostly European artists, AF Projects looks to champion both emerging and well-established artists working in the US.
The opening reception for Attending to the Bats will be held Saturday, Feb. 1 from 6 – 8pm. The exhibition runs until March 4.
—with additional reporting by Stuart I. Frolick
Attending to the Bats
7503 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles
Opening reception: Saturday, Feb. 1 from 6-8 pm.