Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

Issue 33 August 2023

Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
Buy the Issue In our Online Shop

Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
Buy the Issue In our Online Shop

Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings:
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food:
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee:
William Pope.L’s "Reenactor"
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
1301 PE
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega)
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Babst Gallery
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Clay ca
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art (Inglewood)
D2 Art (Westwood)
David Kordansky Gallery
David Zwirner
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
Gana Art Los Angeles
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
Hamzianpour & Kia
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
Hunter Shaw Fine Art
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Lowell Ryan Projects
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matter Studio Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
Nazarian / Curcio
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Regen Projects
Reparations Club
r d f a
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater)
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Box
The Fulcrum
The Hole
The Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Tiger Strikes Astroid
Tomorrow Today
Track 16
Tyler Park Presents
USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
Village Well Books & Coffee
Outside L.A.
Libraries/ Collections
Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Bard College, CCS Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
University of California Irvine, Langston IMCA (Irvine, CA)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Art in Isolation
with Amy Bessone

Amy Bessone in her studio.

In the coming weeks, Carla founder and editor-in-chief Lindsay Preston Zappas will be hosting chats with members of the L.A. art community via Instagram Live on Fridays. 

The following was edited for web from an Instagram Live conversation on May 1, 2020 at 5:30 PST.

LPZ: How’s isolation been for you? Are you making work? What have you been up to?

AB: I have a lot to be grateful for. I have my health. My children have their health. My family’s doing well. I was laughing when you asked me, “how’s isolation going?” When you emailed me, I was like, “I need more isolation, actually,” because I had a very busy January, February, and beginning of March. 

I had in my mind, starting mid-March, I was going to turn inward a little, and have this moment of quiet and contemplation, and reorient myself so I could get started on my next body of work. I didn’t expect it to be this… [laughs] 

LPZ: I know. This isn’t that, right? This isn’t that still, contemplative time… it’s a different kind of energy.

AB: It’s different, and I also did not expect to be overseeing the remote learning of two children who are in the house all the time. That is [a] logistical challenge because I live and work in the same place, so I’m very lucky in that I have my studio here upstairs, and our living space downstairs, but I’m not alone in the studio in the way that I usually am when I’m working on large-scale paintings. 

I was talking to someone the other day who studies the brain, and we were talking about how the very disorganizing effect of the disruption to our routines, is, and how when we’re faced with something that feels very threatening, we revert to the most primitive part of our brain, the limbic system, where all the fight and flight stuff is. It allows us to focus on the very immediate threat and the things right in front of us. The first days after the shutdown, I was manically cleaning and stocking the pantry and making sure my parents were okay. The idea that I could go into this other part of my brain was really challenging because it was just not accessible.

LPZ: That other part is the part you’ve been wanting to get to, right? When you talk about going into deeper isolation, it’s like this creative part, the still part… That’s kind of what you were longing for during this time, and instead, you’re like, “Fight or flight.” I think we all are just trying to plan and take action more, in certain ways, to appease our anxiety. 

AB: But I do feel like talking with somebody who can reflect that back in a scientific way really helped me, and it sort of flipped things for me. As much as it felt almost decadent to focus on something like the postcards and art history, it was taking me into the cognitive part of the brain, [and I] could think about what’s going to happen in three months or six months, [and] what a new body of work might look like—those things that are not ostensibly about day-to-day survival, but ultimately are, if you’re an artist. 

LPZ: Right, because what happens now and what happens next month, will affect how the art world is going to survive through all of this—what exhibitions might get canceled or pushed back. Speaking about that, you were in two group shows that are closed or in stasis, like [technically] open, but closed. 

AB: All of them Witches at Jeffrey Deitch and Demifigures at La Loma Projects are two very different shows that opened in LA about a week apart. You’d have to actually check with the galleries [about] the status, but it’s an interesting thing to think about, what happens to a show when there are not that many people allowed to see it. I think a lot of people saw the shows, fortunately, before they closed. 

I also remember this strange atmosphere, just before the pandemic really hit and things were closing down. I was able to go to a few galleries, and there was already this idea that this might be the last time I see shows in a gallery for a little while—

LPZ: That must have been so strange to have that cognition [while] going through that experience. 

AB: It was actually a kind of beautiful and moving experience. 

LPZ: What shows were those that you saw? 

AB: I went to see, at Nonaka-Hill Gallery, the Sofu Teshigahara show. Those guys are amazing and always do a fantastic job with their shows. There’s so much thought and research that goes into it. I ran into Violet Hopkins there, a fellow artist, and we had this really nice conversation with Rodney and Taka Nonaka-Hill. The other show I saw was Gracie DeVito at Overduin & Co., which I also thought was a very beautiful show. There was this atmosphere that was very “holding things dear”— contemplative, gentle, and I was like, “that is the kind of atmosphere I would love to see carried on.” 

LPZ: I wanted to ask you about the Demifigures show at La Loma because the thesis around that show was this in-between space, or fluidity and not being here-or-there. I feel like we’re in that now.

AB: The thesis of the show is from Kirk Nelson of La Loma Projects. It’s a very painter-centric show, bringing together these four painters who are engaged with the figure in various ways. All of us are pretty invested in rich color palettes as well, so I thought it was a visually satisfying show. I was really happy to be part of it. 

Going to your idea of in-betweenness, the painting that comes to mind in particular is Between Two Banks. For me, that painting was related to a text I read when I was in a tremendous amount of despair. The text said something along the lines of, “being at a place where you are unable to believe in the possibility of change and unable to go on as you had before.” That’s what I really felt at the time. I was stuck. 

I was thinking about that thing of feeling stuck and knowing you can’t go back to how things were, but also unable to really see a way forward, and feeling like you’re never going to get to the other side of something. I’ve noticed people project different ideas about what those two banks are. 

Amy Bessone, Between Two Banks (2019). Oil and oil bar on canvas, 60 x 48 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

LPZ: The painting itself is so open-ended in its message that I could see it being a ripe canvas for people to project onto, as far as those own banks in their lives and their anxieties at the moment. Was [Sometimes Flower, Sometimes Skull, 2019] also in the show?

AB: That is not in the show. I’ve always been interested in the way certain artists use iconography that transmutes across their work, where a form in one painting might be a flower, but in another, it might be a mask, and in another, it might be a skull. 

LPZ: Looking across your work like this, I feel like you’re inventing your own symbology. Can you speak about that connection of the flower and the skull, life and death, ripeness [and] decay? It’s a pretty standard opposition in the art world and [in] life.

AB: It’s a very, very classical motif. Death and the Maiden, or the memento mori. I guess I dwell a lot on very existential things, but I shied away from the skull for a really long time. I thought it was really clichéd and corny and simplistic. Maybe getting to middle age made me embrace it a little more. [both laugh]

My greatest fear in life is losing the people I love. It’s like, “how do we come to a place of acceptance? How does [my fear] not become completely crushing?” Somehow embracing the fear, and confronting and accepting it, is helpful to me. 

LPZ: Do you feel like visualizing it through these paintings is a type of confronting? Are you literally thinking these thoughts as you’re figuring skulls into these paintings? 

AB: Yes.

[both laugh]

LPZ: That’s heavy. 

AB: I have a very complicated relationship to the model and the subject. What you have when you strip away a certain identity is just the skull. It’s also a way of accessing a certain universal character.

[The skull] is not just an empty space. It’s a volume, and I have a longstanding interest in vessels, so it’s this idea that there’s a space in there. 

LPZ: I read in BOMB magazine that you have this empathy toward your subjects. A minute ago, you said you think a lot about your subjects. What do you mean by empathy? Is it not wanting to objectify the subject? 

AB: It’s a long and complicated relationship, right? That was an interview I did with Will Simmons, who’s a very thought-provoking art historian. I came to the conclusion as I was talking to him that sometimes I have misplaced empathy. I hear a lot of talk these days about the concept of radical empathy, and I guess I’m more prone to misplaced empathy. So many of the things that I’ve experienced as personal and private tribulations are also mirrored or played out on a very public or societal scale as well. 

We have become a very un-empathetic place. I was thinking about how the United States used to be considered, as it says on the Statue of Liberty, the golden door, with, “give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” That sense of welcome and empathy has really disappeared, and now there’s this topsy-turvy situation where sometimes the perpetrators present themselves as victims, which is disturbing. 

LPZ: There’s also a performed empathy that’s really common. I think social media does that. A lot of times, we feel satiated by just posting about it and sharing it. But it’s very different. 

AB: I guess that’s where radical empathy comes in. It’s not just being empathetic; it’s taking action, [and] this idea that [the] action component is extremely essential. There are a lot of pitfalls with social media. 

I think one of the biggest ones is being in isolation, we are experiencing each other very much virtually, and [this] lends itself to this pernicious effect of judgement, but also “compare and despair.” Who’s got it better? Who’s got it worse? 

LPZ: At the same time, the Internet these days, to me, feels more tender. I feel less jaded to it, and maybe I’m clinging to it because that’s all we have.

AB: I mean, imagine going through this without this connection. 

LPZ: I know, which has happened in the past during other pandemics. That isolation is an isolation we can’t really quite relate to. Maybe this is a good segue into your postcards that you’ve been sending. I imagine these are beautiful art historical postcards that you’ve collected over time at different museums. 

AB: Right. Can I read you the first entry? 

LPZ: Yes!

AB: This was all on Instagram, [as] an Instagram project. This was the first one I did. 

Thinking about the late, great On Kawara’s “I AM STILL ALIVE” telegrams, started 50 years ago and continually sent until the year 2000. On Kawara, born 1932, Japan. I wonder: How did the turmoil of WW II shape his vision? How will the tumult of our current pandemic affect artists?

I recall one of my dearest teachers, Georg Herold, saying “All you need to make art is a piece of paper and a pencil.” How will artists turn whatever materials and means they may have on hand into work? Will it be glorious to see what comes of the pent-up creative energy once we are on the other side of this pandemic?

Five years ago I had the joy of seeing “On Kawara — Silence,” a survey exhibition at the Guggenheim New York, Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic spiral. In his review @messhammuir wrote: “In 1969, Kawara began sending telegrams declaring “I am not going to commit suicide don’t worry.” These mutated into the more positive message of “I am still alive” on January 20 1970 and continued in telegrams to friends, art collectors, curators and other artists, such as Sol Lewitt, irregularly until 2000.

The gesture echoes that of Marcel Duchamp, who in August 1913 took a vacation in a seaside town on the estuary of the Thames, and wrote a postcard to fellow artist, Max Bergmann saying, “I am not dead; I am in Herne Bay.” In both cases, the artists’ affirmation of being alive is inevitably overshadowed by the inevitability of their death.” On Kawara died at age 81, just months before the Guggenheim exhibition opened. Messham-Muir continues, “Perhaps it reminds us in an unexpectedly poetic way that with life and death, interruption and completion are the same thing.” Recently I pulled a few boxes out of storage and re-discovered hundreds of post-cards I’ve collected over decades. They are an autobiography of sorts.  With my first half-century very nearly behind me, today seems like as good a day as any to start using them.

Telegrams became an obsolete form.  Seeking to minimize contact with humans and surfaces my postcard is “posted.” “Pandemic Postcard #1, March 18, 2020, I AM STILL ALIVE.”

LPZ: Oh! That’s really beautiful, Amy.

AB: Thank you. 

LPZ: This is [from] the backside of one of the postcards. So [is this] what you’re writing and sending out to people?

AB: I’m actually collecting them here in the studio, because I was like, “what if I lick the stamp? Who has to carry it? Who has to deliver it? What if I want all of these back one day? Will they be together?” For a few special requests, I have sent them out, which are addenda to the project.

LPZ: [Your] impulse to chart or to create a certain calendar during this time is appealing.

AB: It is certainly shocking. I think I’m on number 44 now. Every day, I’m like, “it’s this date and I’ve written this many postcards?” It’s a lot. Going back to that thing we started with, of what part of the brain that you’re using: [the project] is an opportunity to reflect on past experiences, sometimes write about them, and also look into art history and the background. 

LPZ: It’s weird to look at your past self. What age were you when you picked up this Rousseau? When did that Man Ray really inspire you? It’s an interesting autobiography of you, then mapped over an autobiography of your daily experience now. 

AB: At first, I just thought about documenting the cards. As I’ve gone on, I’ve integrated them more and more into my studio and my environment. First of all, I love them as a pretext to study. For example, Man Ray’s Observatory Time – The Lovers: it’s a very famous image. Everybody’s seen that image a million times. I photographed the post-card with my view of the Griffith Park Observatory behind it and it took it as an opportunity to delve a little deeper into the history of the image. The oldest postcard I found so far was a de Kooning hanging in my high school locker. 

LPZ: Oh my god. You were a cool high schooler.

AB: Most of them, I collected myself, but there were some that were sent to me. I found a really amazing one that has a plastic thing inside that had a little piece of the Berlin Wall. That was sent to me by the curator Kasper König. When I opened that box, I was like, “I didn’t even know I still had that!” It’s a little piece of history. 

You were talking about the model and objectification, and it brings up these questions of “who gets to depict whom? Who gets depicted? How do they get depicted?” There is a lack of diversity in my postcard collection; who gets to have their artwork on a postcard?

LPZ: These postcards mirror the inequities in our art world and history, which ties back into the work you’re doing with the figure.

AB: That also goes back to the misplaced empathy. What’s interesting to me about the On Kawara postcards is that they reveal almost nothing about him personally. He often chose very generic, touristy postcards, and sometimes there was no handwriting—it was just stamped, [as with] the telegrams. I thought about how [my project] is a very personal thing. It’s very vulnerable, awkward, and revelatory in a way that I’m not necessarily comfortable with. Maybe when the pandemic is over, I’ll have to delete the whole thing! 

LPZ: Looks cute, delete later…

AB: Exactly.

LPZ: But then, [some] text is so On Kawara-feeling. There’s a seriality to it that’s really nice. It does have that personal thing that maybe, to you, feels vulnerable, but it also has that standard repetition that serializes the project too. 

AB: It’s funny because I make this work that’s very colorful, body-centric, and sometimes very messy. People are sometimes surprised to hear or to see some of the things that I consider to be very important, or hear about the people that taught me, or that I really love On Kawara. To me, that generation of artists was very important. One of my teachers was Stanley Brouwn, who was essentially the same generation as On Kawara. Another very important teacher of mine was Jan Dibbets. Artists who spend time documenting the ephemeral—light, space, trajectories—are really interesting and important to me. I think this postcard project has reconnected me to that [interest].

LPZ: That’s beautiful. It contextualizes the project so much more in your work. I wanted to ask about what the future holds for you, Amy, as far as shows and work. Do you feel like you’re getting to that front-place of your brain and creating room for yourself in the studio to push around a little bit?
AB: Absolutely. There was that initial shock and visceral response to the situation, and then I really got my head together. Also, as an artist, it’s impossible not to be tied to that creative practice. I’m planning to have my first show in London at Alison Jacques Gallery, and my first show in Dallas with Gallery 12.26, and my New York gallery, Salon 94, is in the midst of renovating and moving to a new space. First and foremost, I have to make work for myself, and then figure out the next steps as things unfold and as we gather more information.

This review was originally published in Carla issue 20.

Pandemic Postcard. Image courtesy of Amy Bessone.

Pandemic Postcard. Image courtesy of Amy Bessone.

Pandemic Postcards. Image courtesy of Amy Bessone.

Pandemic Postcards. Image courtesy of Amy Bessone.
Amy Bessone, Untitled (introspective) (2019). Watercolor on paper, 12 x 9 inches.
Image courtesy of the artist, Salon 94, and La Loma Projects.
Amy Bessone, Untitled (orange monkeys) (2018). Watercolor and ink on paper, 16 x 12 inches. Image courtesy of the artist, Salon 94, and La Loma Projects.
Amy Bessone, Lemon Tree Tondo No. 1 (2020). Glazed ceramic, 27.5 x 27.5 x 5 inches. Image courtesy of the artist, Salon 94, and Alison Jacques Gallery.

Lindsay Preston Zappas is an L.A.-based artist, writer, and founder and editor-in-chief of Carla. She is an arts correspondent for KCRW. She received her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2013.

More by Lindsay Preston Zappas