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The art world is a social place; overlapping community circles and spheres of influence define the shape of the narratives that eventually make their way into the annals of history books. Bright, Maing, Melchi, Puleo, a four person group show currently on view at Ochi Projects, makes material this art world truism, allowing personal ties to constitute the conceptual framework of the show. Jacob Melchi and Antonio Puleo, friendly colleagues with like-minded work, used the opportunity of their show to each invite another artist, Sara Bright and Susanna Maing, respectively, into a four-way conversation about painting and mark-making.
Each painter included in the exhibition works in a similar sphere of politely mannered abstraction, using disparate processes to come to homologous aesthetic ends. But even within this single genus there are many unique expressions. Bright’s energetic frescos and dynamically glazed ceramics play against Melchi’s firmer, more geometric line forms. Meanwhile Maing’s sinuous, organic shapes seem in a constant state of flux, while Puleo’s work is stable enough to materialize in duplicate outside of the canvas as a series of solid, carved-wood sculptures.
These meandering paths of difference loop back on each other, connecting and reconnecting the four separate bodies of work. There is a sameness in Melchi and Puleo’s formalness as much as there is a familiarity in Bright and Maing’s looser mark-making. Although it can often be the case with group shows based on a social mileu, the exhibition avoids becoming too hermetic or obscure to the viewer. This is helped by a roomy installation which openly engages with the gallery’s architecture, drawing the viewer into its world. Overall the feel is of a cozy slumber party, four friends swapping stories companionably in the moonlight.
Bright, Maing, Melchi, Puleo runs from May 14–June 18, 2016 at Ochi Projects (3301 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018).