Press

By Grant Vetter, February 2016

The paintings, installations and video works of Hollis Cooper are invested in the haptic and the optic construction of space in a way that privileges neither while questioning both. Her compositions act as a recursive loop that joins the digital and the painterly in a series of complex mediations between memory, found materials and innumerable acts of aesthetic transduction. Cooper’s works remind us that ‘the virtual’ is not just a hypothetical construction, but that we encounter the production of virtuality all around us as a series of visual tropes, cultural memes and rhetorical devices. Much like her immersive environments we find ourselves encircled by the digital aesthetics of cinematic seductions, scripted spaces and technologized environments, or what many theorists now refer to as a culture of remediation.

By folding different digitized spaces together — spaces from internet chat rooms, videogame backgrounds and various forms of theoretical architecture — Cooper’s work engages in a kind of radical geometricism that points to the instability of ‘the virtual’ as a well defined local. In fact, her painterly installations insist upon a type of shifting presence that is determined by the interplay of the viewing situation as well as the orchestration of technological motifs, nexus effects and deconstructed systems of representation. The introduction of moving elements, of new framing devices, and an open dialog between the structures that define her work all point to the permeability of forms and even the repurposing of institutional elements.

One could even say that Cooper’s hyperbolic vivisections of architectural and computational space show us how the virtual is commiserate with Deleuze’s interpretation of the term, where the virtual is conceived of a series of potentials within the real that are irreducible to the structures that condition their appearance. Rather, Deleuze provided us with a vision of the virtual as a paradigm of compossibilities that unfurl and unfold all around us in anti-systematic, anti-linear and anti-teleological ways. Such a notion of mixed topologies; of visual events taken as so many forking paths; and of the type of dynamicism that issues from the neo-baroque theatrics found in Cooper’s imagery could be thought of as allegories of the anti-Cartesian urge.

Only, we might even go so far as to say that her latest works provide us with a contemporary version of Plato’s cave as we find ourselves transfixed in a wholly different context for thinking about the allegories of modernism as well as the architectural inheritance of postmodernism. Only, instead of being mesmerized by the false shadows cast on earthen walls we are entreated to contemplate the projections of super-modern affects within the most virtual of all modern spaces, the white cube. In many ways Cooper’s artistic practice could be characterized as a type of cartographic cataloging that takes emergent properties and proliferating mutations as its given subject. And yet, with the evolution of her work even these pictorial anomalies find themselves displaced by so many generative derivations, ultimately giving us a spectrographic language that represents a hybrid disposition toward the use of painterly and digital motifs which are themselves, subject to the logic of multi-dimensional embellishments.

Such a cacophony of visual paradoxes makes us question how we think about the ways in which space is structured while the phenomenal complexity of her works asks us to activate our perception of the living present in order to map its constructed measures as naturalized artifacts. In this way, Cooper's use of different rhetorical tropes, folding structures, plaint graphemes and hypothetical forms plays with the supermodern urge, or what many theorists not refer to as an altermodern perspective, that helps us to reassess both the inheritance of the twentieth century while still pushing up against the boundaries of what technologies allows us to do in the twenty-first. Cooper’s work has been written about as being in dialogue with Marc Auge’s notion of non-spaces, which are the reproducible, malleable and disposable type of architecture of mass industrialization. Only Cooper’s installations allow us to reflect, or even genuflect, before these structures, which are the forms that have become the stock and trade of globalization as an architectural dispostif.

This is why the critical purchase of her work is in asking questions that stretch from the slowest of working mediums in art, painting, to the most rapid type of image production possible, real-time hypercubes. In the stretch between these two medium specific conditions we find our own perception of the present being warped by the infinite possibility of projected designs and the torque of time and space as a manipulated medium. And this too, is not without a certain contemporary resonance with recent developments in the slowing down, freezing, and speeding up of light, not to mention the invention of a warp drive by NASA. If we really are becoming a supermodern culture, than Cooper’s oeuvre not only attests to this, but it asks us to think about the consequences of variability within several different trajectories of art practice from high modernism all the way up to, and including, many of the topological projects that define post-postmodern aesthetics. And for this, Cooper’s contortions of the space-time continuum continue to be a marker of contemporaneity in fine art practices today.

By Grant Vetter, September 2011

The paintings and installations of Hollis Cooper are invested in the haptic and the optic construction of space in a way that privileges neither while questioning both. Her compositions act as a recursive loop that joins the digital and the painterly in a series of complex mediations between memory, found materials, and innumerable acts of aesthetic transduction. Cooper's works remind us that 'the virtual' is not just a hypothetical construction, but that we encounter the production of virtuality all around us as a series of visual tropes, cultural memes, and rhetorical devices. Much like her immersive environments, we find ourselves encircled by the digital aesthetics of cinematic seductions, scripted spaces, and technologized environs -- or what many theorists now refer to as a culture of remediation. By folding different digitized spaces together -- spaces from internet chat rooms, videogame backgrounds, and various forms of theoretical architecture -- Cooper's work engages in a kind of radical geometricism that points to the instability of 'the virtual' as a well defined local. In fact, her painterly installations insist upon a type of shifting presence that is determined by the interplay of the viewing situation, as well as the orchestration of technological motifs, nexus effects, and (de)constructed systems of representation.

One could even say that Cooper's hyperbolic vivisections of architectural and computational space show us how the virtual is commiserate with Deleuze's interpretation of the term --where the virtual is conceived of a series of potentials within the real that are irreducible to the structures that condition their appearance. Rather, Deleuze provided us with a vision of the virtual as a paradigm of compossibilities that unfurl and unfold all around us in anti-systematic, anti-linear, and anti-teleological ways. Such a notion of mixed topologies, of visual events taken as so many forking paths, and of the type of dynamicism that issues from the (neo)baroque theatrics found in Cooper's imagery, could all be thought of as allegorical effect of the anti-Cartesian urge -- or even as a model of Deleuze’s devout anti-Platonism. In many ways, Cooper's artistic practice could be characterized as a type of cartographic cataloging that takes emergent properties and proliferating mutations as its given subject.

In her most recent works, however, even these pictorial anomalies find themselves displaced by so many generative derivations -- giving rise to a spectrographic language that can only be described as Baroqucoco -- or as embodying a hybrid disposition toward the use of different motifs and the logic of embellishment. Cooper's newly extended vocabulary is not so much about the artificiality of architectural systems, as it is about capturing the texture and trace of vituality in all of its various incarnations. Such a cacophony of visual paradoxes makes us question how we think about the structuration of space, while the phenomenal complexity of her works asks us to activate our perception of the living present in order to map its constructed measures as naturalized artifacts. This is, perhaps, what it means to be in-virtuality, or within an aesthetic experience that subtracts from the known what we think we have always already known before.

By Stacy Davies, Inland Empire Weekly, 17 Dec 2009

Environment has always played a crucial role in the world of an artist--if not directly represented in a work as landscape or dwelling, then always as a filter through which any emotional representation is seen and felt. Such artistic resonances take on many forms and themes, and when that environment is in chaos, the depictions become more fantastical and heated. Such is the case with the Riverside Art Museum's newest show, "Edenistic Divergence," guest curated by Andi Campognone through her curatorial service, AC Projects.

Culling some of the most breathtaking and outwardly chaotic interior landscapes from artists Lisa Adams, Rebecca Niederlander, Kimber Berry and Hollis Cooper, Campognone has put together an awe-inspiring show that depicts not only our divergence from a fabled Eden of perfection, but a recreation of that utopia in relationship to outside modern forces--most specifically, as mentioned in the show's statement, of "pollution, global warming and genetic tinkering."

Adams' work makes an instantly recognizable connection to these powers. Her large oil on panel pieces of landscapes are our trodden grounds--surreal lands with birds and trees, fish and flora. But the beauty of these offspring of nature is capsized by the fact that they are floating on an Earth in upheaval. In Convocation, for example, delicate yellow birds perch high on gnarled branches of a tree submerged in water and tar-like runoff from a serenely smoking volcano in the background. The sky is blue and the water (perhaps from glacial meltdown?) lovingly reflects a truth--one that has been ushered in by destruction. In Given That All Things are Equal, there isn't even a volcano--just water--but nothing is actually in that water. Instead, images of birds and a flower float above it. Even a ghostly fish and, ironically, a water lily, won't be tempted by the darkened sea and are instead suspended in the air.

Sculptor Rebecca Niederlander offers up a vision of environmental overgrowth that might be expected in some future Eden when the earth returns to its natural form. In There is a Nova in the Bed Next to Mine, cascades of vellum paper blossoms pour down from the sky creating a jungle of purity that eventually empties into a pool of soft, white petals. It is melting and recycling without destruction. The motif is continued in A Certain Amount of Narcissism is a Good Thing, a mobile maze of white, pink and blue electrical wires turned into whirling dervishes of energy and motion--much like the tempests we both create and fear.

This subtlety is exploded, however, by Kimber Berry's monumental Liquid Landscape Environment--an astonishingly detailed metamorphosis of combustion and expansion that sprays up the gallery walls and then bubbles back down them, meandering into corners and filling them with electrified colors from across the spectrum. Utilizing acrylics on PVC and vinyl to create this primordial celebration of purple waves crashing and twisting greens creeping, Berry has outdone herself with this organic, other-worldly experience.

Transmuting this wild abandon into a more fixed, yet no less exciting form, Hollis Cooper's installation, Proteus, continues the colorful ride into what appear to be cities of the cosmos—structures that are recognizable as skyscrapers of a metropolis, but that are clearly located in another dimension, perhaps, even, in a more perfect parallel world of our own. Shooting across the back walls of the gallery, the neon buildings jut into spikes and suddenly roll down into loops and curves, sending us careening up and then blasting down a warping boulevard at sonic speed. It is a world where architecture is not hindered by gravity or zoning, and the pure beauty of structure can be imagined as if nature herself had designed it--a fitting end-piece to this visionary exhibit that pays tribute to man, and his undoing.

By Brian Sherwin, Myartspace.com, 15 Oct 2008

Brian Sherwin: Hollis, I first learned of your work during the announcement of the results of the myartspace New York, New York Competition 2007. You were one of the 50 finalists of that juried competition. The jury panel included James Rondeau, Frances and Thomas Dittmer Curator of Contemporary Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, Jessica Morgan, Curator, Contemporary Art, The Tate Modern, London, and Steven Zevitas, Publisher and Editor of New American Paintings. What have you achieved since that time? Can you discuss some of your recent accomplishments or exhibits?

Hollis Cooper: Right around the same time as the competition, my work was accepted into the Drawing Center's Viewing Program. I have also been in a few shows here in the Los Angeles area, showing both installation and paintings. Mostly, though, I have been in the studio working, and my work has been evolving at a good rate.

BS: You received your undergraduate degree with high honors from Princeton University, a Post-Baccalaureate certificate from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and an M.F.A. from Claremont Graduate University. Can you briefly discuss your academic years and some of the influential instructors you had?

HC: I feel fortunate that I was able to have a broad liberal arts background. At Princeton, I was an Art History/Studio Art combination major, and minored in Latin/Classics. I also took classes in Architecture, Philosophy, Near Eastern Studies, and History, among other things. I had access to a great number of professors who were leaders in their fields, and it was truly an amazing experience. The fine art program at Princeton is relatively small, but it's well-funded, and gives students access to NYC artists and critics that would otherwise be out of reach. I worked with John Obuck, Lisa Yuskavage, Jim Seawright, Nancy Princenthal, and Charles Hinman as instructors, as well as had studio visits with artists like Frank Stella. The visiting artist lecture series was pretty spectacular, too.

The Museum School was a totally different experience, since the school is so much more intentionally unstructured in its approach. This lack of structure allowed me to branch out into other fine art disciplines, such as sculpture and glass, without being bound by a certain medium-specific course of study. I would say this experience was a major contributor to my cross-disciplinary approach to creating work. The school was a much more self-driven program--while you were enrolled in classes, your grades did not come from attending/turning in assignments for those classes. Instead, your entire semester of credit hinged on a review with two faculty and two students, who would critique all the work you had produced, both in and out of class, over the semester. While being perhaps untraditional, it was really a sink-or-swim method, and forced you to establish good working/studio habits.

Claremont Graduate University was a good place to enter the Los Angeles art scene--I think going to graduate school in the location where you want to stay and work makes a big difference. At Claremont, I worked primarily with John Millei, Rachel Lachowicz, David Amico, and David Pagel. I think one of the most influential aspects of the program was simply building relationships with other artists--creating a group of peers that would last outside of school.

BS: Hollis, you were born in 1976 in Jackson, Mississippi. Since that time you have lived in New Orleans, Houston, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and California. Have your travels influenced the direction of your art?

HC: I think moving so many times has given me an appreciation for the different types of work being made in different areas of the country. Houston has a huge number of artists, galleries, and museums, and a lot of support for the arts, and I had a lot of exposure to that growing up. I steadily took classes at the Glassell School of Art (which is affiliated with the Museum of Fine Arts) from when I was four years old all the way to when I left for college at seventeen. I ended up returning as a teaching assistant for a couple of summers after that. Many of the artists I met in those years are still active in the art scene, and I am still in touch with some of them. Houston really has great energy when it comes to making art--I always felt that pretty much any type of project was possible there. If I ever had to leave Los Angeles, Houston would be my first choice for re-location. In college, I spent a good amount of time in New York, and, for a summer, I worked at the Guggenheim. I could definitely feel the weight of Modernism and Abstract Expressionism in New York; as a painter, especially, I always was very aware of working within that historical tradition.

Boston definitely has its own scene as well, although it's not as well-known or as large as other art cities. The huge number of academic institutions present, though, means there are more resources than you would expect. The Museum School and Mass Art (Massachusetts College of Art and Design) also churn out many younger artists as well.

Los Angeles has really turned out to be the best of all worlds--it's energetic, more open to younger artists, and still has weight as a reputable art city. I like that the art scene is youthful--I think you can't expect anything else from an area with so many MFA programs. Ultimately, I think there are elements of all of my travels that show up in my art in one form or another, whether in formal or conceptual. When I look back at all the work that I have made, I can tell where I was living at the time that I made each piece. Ironically, though, the main conceptual thrust of my work has to do with virtual space ... so deliberately not tied to any one physical geographical location.

BS: I understand that you are an instructor as well. You have taught in the Art Department at California State University in San Bernardino. What has teaching taught you, so to speak? For example, do you learn from your experience as an instructor and take that knowledge into your personal work? How do you find balance between teaching and your personal art?

HC: I am fortunate to teach at a school with a strong art department. Creating/revising my lectures helps keep me up to date with what's going on in contemporary art in disciplines other than painting, and in other locations than the United States. I really enjoy talking to my students about what they are interested in and what they are working on, and, in doing that, I learn as well. Because I teach an Art & Technology class, I definitely run across ideas either in class or preparing for class that end up influencing my work.

I think it's easy to get caught up in the studio and tune out everything else, and working on a class prevents that from happening. My teaching schedule is also conducive to getting work made in the studio--my time is organized in such a way that I have more usable free time than if I worked a 9-5 job, and the structure makes me more focused when I am able to be in the studio.

BS: Tell us about your art. Perhaps you can tell us about the process of creating your paintings and installations? The methods you utilize and so on?

HC: My work is actually a hybrid process of computer generated images and traditional painting. All my source material is architecturally-based, and comes off the internet. It then is distorted, processed, and reprocessed by me, resulting in a collaborative outcome. With digitally-based work, I think there’s a little bit of fear about the absence of the "original mark," but my images are reworked by myself so many times (within a single piece) that they lose that initial sterility.

I begin with tracings of online depictions of 3-D space, and then use Adobe Illustrator to twist and distort the forms until they take on the appearance of a new type of space. Illustrator makes it very easy to start a design small-scale and then bring it up to almost any resolution. For my installation work, this is very handy, as I can work with a drawing that's less than a foot across, and then once I'm done, scale it up until it is 22 feet long, without losing any detail or quality.

Then, ironically enough, to transfer the print-out to PVC or panel, or whatever surface the drawing is going on, I use carbon-paper. Hand-tracing the drawings, though, lets me make editing decisions, and rework the lines so they have a little more of an organic feel. The drawings are then re-traced in marker, and then they're cut out (if done on PVC) and painted.

Because this process really works better large-scale than small, I also have been doing collage-based painting, where I will print out the drawing directly onto watercolor paper that's coated for inkjet printing. Then I cut out the drawings and collage them directly onto the painting that I am working on. In both cases, though, the imagery is assembled modularly, so I am making creative decisions all the way until the end.

BS: What themes do you explore with your work? Can you tell us more about the thoughts behind your art in general? For example, is there a specific message or idea that you strive to convey within the context of your art?

HC: I am predominantly interested in ideas about space, and how we define and relate to that concept. My work bridges multiple definitions of space – from conceptual ideas of space, such as color-space or space of imagination, to representative/perceptual space (using conceptual space to represent some notion of physical space), to actual three-dimensional physical space. Because of this, my work tends toward the architectural, since it is an easy reference point for most viewers to grasp.

I use architectural diagrams as a main element in my work because we are so culturally attuned to them as indicators of "space" that they do not require a lot of additional explanation--even when the type of space they actually represent (abstract, perceptual) is different from the one they purport to represent (concrete, three-dimensional). I intend for my work to be a flow from this more abstract space (perceptual and psychological space, space of color) to the physical: in the installation work, this occurs by breaking the traditional painterly frame and making the architecture of the room not as something that is (or should be) invisible, but an equal element in the work’s construction. I achieve an erasing of figure/ground within the work by activating the entire architectural space around it.

The ideas behind the installation pieces put the "traditional" paintings in a more problematic place, but my attitude towards them is that they are the inverse of the installations--they frame a view into space, as opposed to bringing that space outward towards the viewer. Also, our cultural familiarity with the idea of the painterly window--or the more recent idea of the screen and user interface--makes these confining borders relatively invisible, so the paintings are able to take advantage of both framed and unframed attributes, allowing for tighter control over design, but also giving a freedom and flexibility of psychological movement through abstract space--of color, perception, idea--as the elements are delineated from the physical environment in which they exist. I realize that ultimately there are still constraints, but they keep each piece as something digestible and discrete.

In both the paintings and installations, I work within a multi-dimensional approach, making the work harder to see as a view into or out of a single type of space, but instead different spaces that are folded and spliced into one another. In the end, though, the strong formal considerations in each piece make it so that whatever form it takes, the viewer is always still aware that they are looking at a painting.

BS: Tell us more about your influences? For example, are you influenced by any specific artist or art movements?

HC: I have a lot of influences--17th century Italian Baroque art, in particular. I spend a lot of time looking at Baroque ceilings. I also have a background in interactive design, so I have been influenced by the concept of the digital user interface and ideas of usability. I am also interested in contemporary immersive art spaces, like those of Charlotte Davies.

In terms of other contemporary artists, I look towards those who are working with similar ideas either of space or hybrid practices: Kevin Appel, Frank Stella, Fabian Marcaccio, Jennifer Steinkamp, Eberhard Havekost, Benjamin Edwards, Katharina Grosse, and Sarah Morris. I am also interested in contemporary German artists who are dealing with spatial breakdown – such as Frank Nitsche, Christian Hellmich, Corinne Wasmuht, and David Schnell. In addition, I've been influenced by the works of International Style architects like Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, as well as contemporary architects/firms such as Zahad Hadid, Asymptote, and Diller, Scofidio + Renfro.

BS: What are you working on at this time? Can you give our readers some insight into your current work?

HC: I am currently finishing an installation for an upcoming show. The installation work is becoming more broken-down, more (re-)processed, and the forms that I have used for my visual language are distorting and changing as well. The installations only get made, though, when there is a space to show them in, since they are site-specific, so I am also concurrently working on a new body of collage paintings.

BS: Can you give us more information about any exhibits or upcoming exhibits that you will be involved with?

HC: I will be in a group show called "Infrastructure" at the Wignall Museum at Chaffey College in a couple weeks.

BS: Speaking art and exhibiting... do you have any concerns about the art world at this time?

HC: In terms of the art world in general, there are always trends of what’s "in" or popular at the moment, etc, and while I do pay attention to what's going on, I try to take everything with a grain of salt and not get too caught up in it. In general, I just try and make work, and show it to as many people as possible. So far, my work seems to resonate pretty well with people, and I have had a good amount of support from gallerists, curators, other artists, and the public. I can’t really ask for much more than that.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the goals that you have?

HC: No--thank you for your interest in my work!

By Stacy Davies, Inland Empire Weekly, March 2008

Aristotle's principle, "the whole is more than the sum of its parts," is a widely debated mathematical position. But while the idea might not compute in the finite world, in theory, and especially in art, it makes perfect sense. When speaking of collage and multi-media works in particular, parts are often made up of disparate objects and medium, all of which are conjoined in the artist's mind and then processed out into tangible form.

In dba256's Sum of Parts, we find not only displays of this collage process, but often the repetition of forms that are not at all dissimilar--yet tampered with enough to create fragmentation and cohesion all at the same time.

Two of Irene Abraham's acrylic on panel pieces do exactly this. Ironically, Abraham has a background in a scientific discipline--a research biologist--and so intrinsically knows about sums and parts. It's no wonder then that all of her pieces evoke cellular images—especially "Strange Bedfellows" and "Random Acts"--orderly jumbles of circles and disks all painted in muted modern tones of tangerine, lemon yellow, brick red and copper brown, almost like records or earthy gumballs, scattered across textured, deep blue and brown washes. The disks are at once stagnant and in motion--what one might really see through a microscope, if it's a fun, party-inclined microscope that is. Her two Mylar pieces also channel a scientific feeling--in toy land--with blue-green and orangey-brown acrylic dots connected by drips that meld into skyscrapers and industrial buildings made from Tinker Toys--or maybe they're just amino acids. DNA? Fun, all the way around, nevertheless.

Also on some type of cellular level, Rebecca Hamm's watercolors on paper filter nature's offerings through a colorful spectrum of globular mosaic. Up close, it's difficult to tell where the tributaries of branch-like lines and amoebas are going--but they're going somewhere in a randomness of organized movement. From afar, we see that the negative space of these fragments indeed make up a tree, foliage, rocks, and even a pond. We wondered if we had put on our red-tinted glasses if a hidden word or phrase would appear--but we forgot our glasses, blast it.

Pulling us out of the microcosm, digital artist and painter Hollis Cooper's wall-high acrylic on plastic is an energetic splash of color--a twisted abstraction of semi-recognizable city infrastructure that absolutely screams Rock & Roll. Careening across the wall like the environment seen from the windows of an out-of-control virtual taxi cab on acid, buildings plunge and turn in on themselves in waves and ignite upward once again, crashing through another plane, tugging at our reality to come along.

Shedding the color, but transporting you further into wild yet recognizable abstraction, Rebecca Niederlander's wire mobiles embody once again the repetition of shapes that the human mind craves and seeks out (like when we see faces of Jesus in tree trunks and potato chips). In a very "Seussian" way, her electrical wire danglings evoke childlike imaginings of zany chandeliers or even the bouncing bouffant of a swinger party hostess.

Speaking of childhood, that's where several of Lisa Adams' metaphysical acrylic on panels belong--in some Shel Silverstein storybook land. Fairly unplaceable insofar as finding a point of reference in the material world, Adams' intricate vines with soon-to-bloom buds cling and burrow into a heavenly cameo of clouds, a simplistically circular dreamcatcher-like medallion, and my favorite, "How Important is Volume," wrap around a plasma-membraned balloon, next to delicate blue string, floating high above a wistfully dark atmosphere.

We are now in a truly otherworldly and indefinable place, and so brings us to the finest piece in the exhibit. We don’t know what the hell is twisting around in the mind of Kimber Berry, but we wish we had it. Her 12×6 mixed media panel of paint and photo linen is utterly engrossing--a vibrant anarchy of super-charged shockwaves igniting almost every color on the palette: Think of an aquatic scene shot through the kaleidoscopic lens of The Yellow Submarine--psychedelic prisms of swirls that suck you into electric coral, vibrating frog's legs and translucent crystalline waves. Berry, a truly emerging young artist, is a phemon to be sure, and this piece alone serves as the pure translation of the exhibit theme--the whole of her expression not only transcends its own parts, but renders them indistinguishable from it.

By Paul Krainak, Art Papers, July/August 2007

White Flag Projects' second exhibition affirms the presence of St. Louis' newest artspace. Its Chelsea-style restoration boasts a spacious, clean, muscular interior with high ceilings and polished concrete floors. The windows above a central black I-beam flood the space with the ashy light of the gallery's mixed-use neighborhood. For art to succeed here, it cannot be faint, intimate, or decorative.

Organized by St. Louis-born independent curator Dana Turkovic, Modular: New Art from Los Angeles [White Flag Projects; January 6 – February 10, 2007] is a smart, formally concise exhibition that reflects her six-year stint in Los Angeles. Her intent is twofold insofar as she seeks to apply the idea of modularity to certain artistic practices while giving form to her memory of a city known for its impermanence and transience. What's more, her use of the term "modular" tacitly references modernist art's common consideration of repetition. Turkovic's sense of object and image integrity is based on her experience of place, which she seeks to represent through actual artworks. While thematic relationships do connect the selected projects, her concept of modularity reflects an often-disregarded idea about Southern California: its thingness --its concrete reality and the equally concrete parts that lead to its understanding. In addition, the exhibition charts an experience of time that, shirking linearity, collapses into the concurrent layers that make particular moments. Ultimately, Modular, an exhibition of works by six artists in their early thirties, is both fundamentally anecdotal and an independent record of site, time, and memory.

Most of the work freely interprets constructivism by way of dynamic and colorful structures that assert themselves vigorously in the gallery. They often reference similar sculptural forms that have been turned inside out or flattened.

Two works are somewhat allegorical. Nichole van Beek suspends a 3-dimensional photocollage mobile of arms and hands from the ceiling. One hand emerges from the cloud of limb sand pours a glass of petrified water on an irregular polyhedron set in sand and laminated with a photograph of bubbling water. White it alludes to the artist's actual beach play, the piece calls to mind the graphic intensity and lyricism of Hannah Hoch's work, made 3-dimensional. Conceptually ambiguous but pictorially succinct, van Beek’s piece is an uncanny document. Still, a question remains: what does it document? Carnality? Intoxication? Rite of passage?

Bari Ziperstein presents an arrangement of fourteen small mixed-media collages that enlist photographic reproductions culled from popular home improvement and design journals. She corrupts these staged renovation projects with drawn gray and white pillars or partitions that intrude rakishly on the magazine illustrations, parodying one of the perpetual leisurely pursuits of the "rich and famous." The shapes lurch awkwardly through parlor interiors, even through the bodies of craftsmen installing the latest tile or trim.

The abstract paintings of Kevin Wingate and Hollis Cooper are aggressive distillations of Los Angeles street culture. They also serve as lively points of transition between works that are more formally stable. Wingate makes trapezoidal aluminum panels of loosely gestured oil and spray car paint. Hybrids of automobile detailing and neo-expressionist canvases, they juke and jive their way across a huge back portion of the gallery space.

Cooper's titanic, irregularly-contoured, seven-by-twenty-feet painting-installation tumbles off the wall and onto the floor, inviting us into the spatial logic of its overlaid industrially-produced vinyl and brightly enameled matrices. The work is an imaginary urban map that also serves as a hyper-constructed backdrop for passage among the tighter arrangements of other works.

All of these works circulate formally and conceptually around two central installations. The first is a spectacular, multi-faceted plywood floorpiece designed by Louisa Van Leer, which looks like a digitized wooden starburst or the structural undercarriage of Lady Liberty's torch flopped on its side. The structure's back opens up to a ten-by-twenty-feet ad sporting a large red Warholian lipstick impression, the slogan "DUE THIS JANUARY," and BRAVO blocked across the bottom. From the front, one can peer through several sighting holes that isolate fragments of one of the city's corroborations of celebrity.

Danny Jauregui's five small graphite and charcoal drawings on print paper feature beautifully rubbed and erased backgrounds with frame-filling fragments of architectonic projections. Each of the dense radiating structures is corrupted by eroding edges or incongruous improvisations on axonometric logic or standard perspective. Like each of the artists invited by Turkovic, Jauregui maps the sometimes slippery and asymmetrical logic of vision and place in Los Angeles culture.

By David Bonetti, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4 Feb 2007

Two local galleries are showing art made in the country's two major art centers -- New York and Los Angeles -- offering a rare bicoastal experience.

The Los Angeles show at nonprofit White Flag Projects is the more relevant as a yardstick for young local artists, because it features other young artists working out their own ideas. St. Louis-based independent curator Dana Turkovic describes this as a survey of a new generation of LA artists, "immersed in a radically fragmented visual culture that threatens to simultaneously spin off into space or collapse in on itself like a dying sun."

The six artists are all independent, resisting categorization, but their work shares certain characteristics. Awareness of architecture as a determinant of experience is a dominant concern, while surface decoration and a play of styles appear as leitmotifs.

Danny Jauregui and Bari Ziperstein have architecture and interior design on their minds. In his abstract ash-and-graphite drawings from the "Ruins" series, Jauregui creates fragmented cubic spaces out of alternating dark-and-light lines that suggest rooms without windows or doors but crumbling walls. In collages on pages torn from vintage house magazines, Ziperstein creates a utopian modernism laid over the rootless traditional -- Russian constructivism atop Empire revival or chinoiserie.

Kevin Wingate and Hollis Cooper both use the wall as support and ground for their shaped works. Wingate, a Webster University graduate, renders three-dimensional forms on flat corrugated-aluminum surfaces, delineating their rectangular ends with a variety of decorative schemes. Cooper makes a Matthew Ritchie-like shaped painting that swoops across the wall, leaving a pile of unattached panels on the floor. She envisions a world of complex geometry, one where parallel lines bend, converge and merge as they move at apparently great velocity across space.

Nichole Van Beek and Louisa Van Leer contribute the most complex and, not coincidentally, satisfying works to the show. Van Beek's ceiling-suspended sculpture, obscurely titled, "Aether ... Carbonated the Lattice Site Dude," is a surrealist conundrum that is actually somewhat easy to parse if you give it a try. Turkovic says it's all about a party on the beach at Santa Barbara. An orgy of (represented) hands and arms — photo-based inkjet prints, cut out and turned into a swarm — hang from the ceiling. One hand holds a (real) plastic cup out of which (represented) water drips onto a (represented) rock, where it splashes onto a circle of (real) sand. The piece ends up being a consideration of the differences between the real and the illusory, a time-honored subject of art that is particularly relevant in Los Angeles, the "dream factory" where truth and illusion are often hard to tell apart.

Van Leer's multipart installation, "Looking at You, Looking at Me," unfolds cinematically. A large plywood construction, shaped like a giant crystal lying on its side on the floor, dominates the gallery. On the wall behind it is a fragment from a giant vinyl billboard poster sporting a pair of red lips for a show on Bravo "due in January." At the tip of each crystal is a hole through which you can peer at the poster as if through a peephole, an experience that replicates the voyeurism at the heart of both film and art.

The piece changes dramatically when viewed from its open end. The crystal is lined with aluminum foil-coated board, which turns the interior into an elaborate architectural model of a deconstructivist interior of the sort that Zaha Hadid might design. The peepholes at the ends of the elongated spaces become windows that let in a rationed quantity of light, which make the spaces even more mannerist.

"Looking at You, Looking at Me," a tour-de-force on the subject of looking, presages an important career for Van Leer.

By Teresa Callahan, West End Word [St. Louis, MO], 24 Jan 2007

Located in the Grove neighborhood, east of Kingshighway on Manchester, White Flag Projects is a not-for-profit alternative art space that was established to facilitate quality exhibitions by progressive local, national and international artists.

The art space itself is an impressive and dramatic 2,000 square feet with ceiling heights ranging from 15 to 22 feet. There are massive north-facing windows and 12-foot skylights that allow gorgeous natural light, polished concrete floors and a custom-made spiral staircase leading to a second-floor reading, viewing and lounge area. This space will be appreciated by every gallery lover and art connoisseur.

In its third exhibition, White Flag Projects presents modular: New Art from Los Angeles, curated by Dana Turkovic and featuring work by Hollis Cooper, Danny Jauregui, Nichole van Beek, Louisa Van Leer, Kevin Wingate and Bari Ziperstein. These are six emerging artists living and working in Los Angeles and exploring the city's radically fragmented visual culture. One prong of this exhibition's concept is to show work actually set in the city of Los Angeles, creating a constant underpinning formed by the city itself. The artists do not know each other, so the work remains socially separated yet still forms a visually interrelated and whole presentation.

Some of the 13 works in modular: New Art from Los Angeles hearken back to the Bauhaus by utilizing simple construction methods and less expensive materials that form modern, interlocking designs that are, in some cases, disposable. There is an emphasis on materials such as vinyl, plywood and composite aluminum used mainly in the formal basis of the grid. Turkovic refers to this work as being in the modular style, exploiting geometry and blending furniture design, biology and architectural structures to create deceptively complex art. A thematic component to the work in this exhibit that distinguishes it from the Bauhaus influence is a constant theme of deconstruction and decomposition, or construction and composition. This theme touches each piece with a spectacular vitality, suggesting that each piece is never stagnant.

The 2006 "Ruin" series by Danny Jauregui in modular: New Art from Los Angeles is composed of five ash and graphite drawings on paper. These are pure black-and-white line drawings that show a geometric form decomposing in varying viewpoints. Almost mimicking the appearance of mechanical drawings, Jauregui's "Ruin" drawings are fresh and vital with a gestalt aesthetic that somehow manages to look brand new.

Nichole van Beek's sculpture greets the gallery visitor at the door. The intriguing "Aether" (2006; inkjet print, resin, wood, aluminum, sand) is a free-standing sculpture of realistic arms and hands pouring a stream of liquid from a hand-held glass into a three-dimensional, geometric base. Clever and witty, this piece is sharp and crisp as well as perfectly constructed.

"Parallax" (2006; mixed media on PVC) by Hollis Cooper literally splashes and spills onto the wall and floor of White Flag's space. Cartoon-colorful and wildly animated, this large and sprawling non-representational piece commands attention with bubbling outlined color blocks that begin with cool blues, then follows the color spectrum to end with hot fluorescent pinks and reds. As lyrical and vibrant as music, "Parallax" is also technically fabulous. As with many of the pieces in modular: New Art from Los Angeles, Cooper's scintillating "Parallax" could be either decomposing or composing. Whichever, this work is in full-tilt progress.

Overall, modular: New Art from Los Angeles is a very good exhibition at a fabulous new venue. White Flag Projects has chosen an ambitious course, and modular: New Art from Los Angeles does not disappoint.

MeganandMurrayMcMillan.com, Jan. 2007

One surprise we had upon moving to St Louis from Los Angeles was meeting another recently transplanted Angeleno, Dana Turkovic, an independent curator who used to work at the Hammer. Dana has brought challenging and innovative new work to this city, and most recently, worked with Matthew Strauss at White Flag Projects to bring a taste of LA to St Louis in the just-opened exhibition, modular: New Art from Los Angeles.

This exhibition features six emerging LA artists -- Hollis Cooper, Danny Jauregui, Nichole van Beek, Louisa Van Leer, Kevin Wingate, and Bari Ziperstein.

Dave Hickey once called Los Angeles the ultimate postmodern city. It's diverse, all-inclusive, and tenuously connected with a gridwork of highways linking everything to everything; it's a hyper-constructed, artificial, surreal, multi-lingual, multi-everything kind of place. For someone unfamiliar with it, modular captures a spirit that is reflective of the ethos of the city.

For the art community in St Louis, which is culturally sophisticated and savvy, although perhaps more accustomed to the polished exhibitions of area institutions like the Pulitzer Foundation, it's a clear and well-presented introduction to the surprisingly loose and simultaneously tense aesthetic of contemporary Los Angeles. For example, Louisa Van Leer's witty and culture-critiquing Looking at Me, Looking at You (2006), has torn scraps of blue masking tape with assembly directions stuck on most of its wood planes, and Hollis Cooper's multi-layered piece, Parallax (2006), uses industrial PVC sheets as the surfaces of her site-specific painting.

If LA is indeed the frontrunner of emergent art, then modular at White Flag Projects is the place to see the kind of ebullient and gritty work that's in the forecast for the near-future.

By David Bonetti, , 4 Jan 2007

New York might be headquarters for the art market, "but LA is the creative center," Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, says in W magazine.

White Flag Projects, St. Louis's new nonprofit gallery, will offer a taste of that LA energy in "modular: New Art from Los Angeles," a show opening Saturday.

Don't dismiss Govan as a provincial booster. He was, until fairly recently, director of the Dia Center, the intellectual heart of the New York art world.

Los Angeles' high-powered art schools turn out thousands of young talents every year -- most of whom stay in the sprawling city to develop their ideas, form a community and forge a career. Increasingly, young artists from around the nation and the world migrate there to plug into its uncontained creative energy.

The White Flag show, organized by freelance curator Dana Turkovic, features six young artists, all of whom joined the migration west. Graduates of schools in New York City; Boston; Providence, R.I.; Baltimore; Athens, Ohio; and St. Louis, their work exhibits a fragmented style that Turkovic roots in LA's own de-centeredness.

A St. Louis native, Turkovic knows her material. She spent more than four years in Los Angeles before moving to London, where she earned a master's degree in curating at Goldsmiths College, itself an incredible incubator of new talent. She recently came back to St. Louis to launch a career in freelance curating, a challenge anywhere but especially where there are few venues.

Q: How did you get the idea for the show?
A: I went out to LA after not having been there for a couple of years and was overwhelmed by what had happened since I was away. I went to studios, I went to "Supersonic," the large annual exhibition of recent art school graduates. Those are the places to see what's going on.

Q: How did you choose the artists?
A: I came back with a list of about 20 artists who had struck my fancy. But it's impossible to capture in one show the entirety of the LA art scene. You need to focus, to find a coherent theme.

Q: That theme was "modular"?
A: The term describes, for me, the process of putting an exhibition together, but it also describes the process of artists putting their work together. The words that come to my mind when I hear "modular" are fragments, systems, architecture, geometry. Modular is about how the different parts fit together.

Q: Who are the artists in the show?
A: Hollis Cooper, who is making a site-specific wall piece; Danny Jauregui, who makes abstract architectural drawings; Nichole van Beek, who is sending a collage that hangs from the ceiling; Louisa van Leer, who has sent an enormous wood sculpture; Kevin Wingate, a painter; and Bari Ziperstein, who makes collages. You might not have heard of any of them--yet--but a couple got picked up by galleries at the recent Basel-Miami art fair.

Q: Are any of them coming for the opening?
A: Both Louisa (van Leer) and Nichole (van Beek) are definitely going to be here. And I'm hoping that Hollis (Cooper) will be able to make it.

Catalogs Available

Drawing Papers 116: The Intuitionists [Drawing Center]

Vergence [Cerritos College Art Gallery]

The Subterraneans [Torrance Art Museum]

Edenistic Divergence [Riverside Art Museum]

Modular: New Art from Los Angeles [White Flag Projects, St. Louis, MO]

Supersonic [Barnsdall Art Park, Los Angeles, CA]