Issue 35 February 2024

CalArts and
the Rediscovery of
the Feminist Art
–Catherine Wagley
Made in L.A. 2023:
Acts of Living
Formulas for Doing
the Right Thing
–Yxta Maya Murray

Dominique Moody
as Citizen Architect
–Tina Barouti
Not Identity:
Contemporary Positions
in Abstraction
–Jonathan Griffin
Interview with
Elmer Guevara
–Sigourney Schultz
Works in Progress
Featuring: Sharif Farrag
Photos: Leah Rom
Reviews Sun Woo
at Make Room
–Claudia Ross

Alex Da Corte
at Matthew Marks
–Isabella Miller

at Long Beach City
College Art Gallery
–Thomas J. Stanton

Yalda Afsah
–Caroline Ellen Liou

A Project Curated
by Artists: 15 Years of ACP

at Morán Morán
–Natasha Boyd
Carla en Español

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
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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
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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

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.)
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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
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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
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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
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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.)
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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.)
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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.)
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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
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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
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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.)
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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
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Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
Nazarian / Curcio
Night Gallery
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NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
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r d f a
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Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
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The Box
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The Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
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Track 16
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USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
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Libraries/ Collections
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University of California Irvine, Langston IMCA (Irvine, CA)
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Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Inhabiting the In-Between: Silke Otto-Knapp’s Permeable Worlds

Leer en Español

Silke Otto-Knapp, Sun and Clouds (2020). Watercolor on canvas, 31.5 × 23.5 × 0.75 inches. © Silke Otto-Knapp. Image courtesy of Regen Projects.

Upon her death of ovarian cancer in October 2022, a brutal disease that she battled for two years amidst the equally brutal reign of the pandemic, the Los Angeles-based, German-born artist Silke Otto-Knapp had spent 18 months working on a solo exhibition for Galerie Buchholz in New York, which opened a mere 19 days after her passing. Entitled Versammlung, a German word that translates to assembly or gathering, the site-specific exhibition featured three large, grayscale triptychs rendered solely in black watercolor —a medium usually reserved for paper but uniquely adapted by the artist as a pigment for canvas.1 These freestanding hinged paintings adopted a sculptural footprint, occupying the small gallery like loosely folded accordions—a gathering of sorts that positioned the work in dynamic physical proximity to the viewer, collapsing the distinction between painting, sculpture, and stage set. Often directly referencing photographs of early- to mid-twentieth-century experimental dance and theater practices (such as Bauhaus choreography and the work of Bertolt Brecht), the compositions depict the bodies of performers as faceless silhouettes slipping across thresholds and bleeding into other discrete forms.2 In Untitled (Versammlung) III (2022), for example, a monochromatic mirror image of embracing or perhaps merging bodies—one black and one white, suggesting a photographic negative and positive— bookends a dim, lunar sphere; in another, the figure of a ribbon dancer melts into a serpentine coil.

Although painted near the end of her life, the evocative (Untitled) Versammlung paintings allude to a pictorial in-betweenness, marked by blurred thresholds and a series of elusive forms, that had been a consistent source of inquiry within Otto-Knapp’s oeuvre. This summer, Regen Projects presented a posthumous solo exhibition of works predominantly made in the last five years of the artist’s life, further illuminating the repertoire of ineffable motifs that dwell within her paintings. Curated by Kitty Scott, the meditative presentation of watercolor paintings and works on paper neither included works from the (Untitled) Versammlung series nor any other freestanding paintings—a curious omission. Nonetheless, the selected works spoke to the depth and complexity of the gestural language that Otto-Knapp had been meticulously forging across her lifetime, despite working in a medium often deemed too illustrative for painting’s more sophisticated pursuits.3

Much like the paintings in Versammlung, the late works on view at Regen Projects reveal Otto-Knapp’s penchant for delving into liminal (and subliminal) motifs—from clouds to silhouettes to negative space itself—and ability to milk conceptual complexity from even seemingly simplistic forms. While her earlier works often incorporated hazy sheens of color, here, her singular focus on black-and-white imagery positions her paintings as fruitful vehicles for allegorical interpretation, with the dichotomy of these two tones suggesting either the rigidity of binary absolutes (either black or white) or, more intriguingly, the fluidity between opposing yet intrinsically interconnected forms (light and dark, day and night, positive and negative). Crucial to any reading of Otto-Knapp’s work, however, is the spectrum of gray space that exists in between. While we can refer to these “gray areas” as spaces of liminality—a catchall term for the fuzzy indeterminacy of transitional states—in the case of Otto-Knapp’s paintings, these mutable spaces act as connective thresholds between discrete forms, ideas, or things—a notion that the artist herself summarized as “negative and positive space meeting.”4 Here, “meeting” is the operative word: Pointing to moments of touch or convergence, Otto-Knapp’s vocabulary of in-betweenness shuns passivity and instead functions as a haptic and dynamic mode of gestural expression, anchoring her conceptual and material investigations. Ultimately, rather than inhabiting a world of absolutes, her paintings posit that the latent space between things can be as ripe and fertile as the individual things themselves.

Etymologically, the term “liminal” stems from the Latin word “līmen,” meaning threshold or doorway; the word “limen” is also used to refer to the physiological threshold at which a sensation, such as pain or consciousness, becomes detectable. Anatomically, a limen also denotes the opening of a bodily orifice—the threshold between our interior and exterior worlds. If conceptually, liminality describes an overall condition of suspension, physically, a limen is a more acute (yet still elusive) transition point between discrete forms or states of being. Otto-Knapp’s work engages with the intricacies of both meanings of the word. Although she does not portray thresholds in the form of bodily cavities, she does depict a variety of other physical and metaphysical limins in her illumination of transitional spaces, such as the seams where conjoined canvases or compositions meet, the indistinct expanse between figuration and abstraction, or the airy chasm between earth and sky.

Silke Otto-Knapp, Clouds (installation view) (2021). Watercolor on canvas, 118 × 153.5 × 0.75 inches. Regen Projects, Los Angeles, 2023. © Silke Otto-Knapp. Image courtesy of Regen Projects. Photo: Evan Bedford.

Otto-Knapp’s material process similarly harnessed elements of transition. To create her paintings, she meticulously layered her canvases with vivid, jet-black watercolor pigment, wiping and washing it away to reveal a mist of gray tones—a gestural choreography that revels in the latent space between mark-making and erasure. She then physically manipulated the canvas to propel the floating pigment across the surface of the work, attempting to control how it puddled and soaked into the skin of the canvas. While the act of painting inherently engages the body, the relationship between an artist’s body and their canvas—steeped in the physics and contingencies of close, careful touch—is uniquely intimate. Otto-Knapp’s process involved harnessing the fugitive pliability of her medium, conducting the movement of the pigment as it quickly shifted from liquid to dry matter and thereby elevating the importance of transitional material states. Her resulting surfaces bear the translucent gestures of watercolor yet simultaneously mimic the mottled, earthy textures of charcoal or graphite, a visual sleight of hand that positions the work between the margins of various media. Here, she acted as an alchemist, ferrying her paint from one state into another and reveling in the anticipatory space that exists at the thresholds of the transformation.

The subjects of Otto-Knapp’s compositions—spectral bodies and hazy silhouettes that ambulate against washy voids—often infiltrate the physical boundaries of the works themselves. In two small monochromatic works on paper with nearly identical compositions (installed beside one other at Regen Projects), a faceless figure lies on its side, perched on its elbow as if leisurely reading a book. In each work, a loosely painted frame encloses the figure, whose arm reaches toward the lower right corner of the paper, perhaps grasping for something unseen. In the first, larger work (Untitled, c. 2021), the figure’s outstretched arm touches the painted frame, as if acknowledging its containment. In the second (also Untitled, c. 2021), the figure’s hand grazes the edge of the paper itself, as if attempting to perceive the world beyond it. While humble compared to the larger, more complex paintings in the exhibition—I nearly brushed by these works on my first viewing of the show—their quiet interrelation- ship hints at the nuances inherent to Otto-Knapp’s defined interest in thresholds. The figure’s subtle shift from one work to the next suggests an unseen transformation, resulting in the quiet breaching of a boundary. The spatial and temporal pause between these two compositions functions as a moment of inferred action, much like the brief interlude that occurs when a dancer transitions between movements. The pairing of these two works activates the blank, marginal space between them, pointing to the frame as an imperfect system of containment, and suggesting that even firmly defined boundaries are more porous than we think.

In addition to her figurative works, Otto-Knapp frequently invoked the visual poeticism of the natural world, innately rife with slippery thresholds. A cloud, for example, is a perfect liminal form: A nebulous buoy between earth and sky, it inhabits a realm of perpetual suspension, as in Otto-Knapp’s large-scale painting Clouds (2021), which occupied Regen Projects’ central wall. A response to Georgia O’Keefe’s Sky Above Clouds IV (1965), which depicts a tableau of abstracted, cell-like clouds as seen from an airplane window, Otto-Knapp’s painting adopts a similarly vaulted perspective, as if both artist and viewer were dangling in the sky. Composed of five canvases fused to form an irregular polygon, the grayscale watercolor composition depicts pillowy clouds rendered in ash, bone, and charcoal tones. These clean, puffy shapes threaten to breach the edges of the painting, once again suggesting the canvas’ fallibility as a concrete margin.

While O’Keefe’s painting connotes the spiritual tranquility of calm horizons, Otto-Knapp’s work appears dark and dynamic, as if on the cusp of thunder. Its presence is seductive and formidable: When I encountered it for the first time, I registered a strange mélange of awe, pleasure, reverence, and curiosity, much like awaiting the ferocity of a looming storm (and this was before learning that Clouds was among the final works created before her death). While imposing a biographical reading on a work can muddy its viewing, it’s difficult not to view this painting through a lens of mourning. A billowy sky on the brink of a squall can denote the emotional heft of grief or melancholy; it can perhaps also be read as a metaphor for the tumult that accompanies the process of creation. And, although Otto-Knapp’s conceptual engagement with forms of liminality far preceded her diagnosis (which by no means defines the context of her work), there is nonetheless a certain poetic solemnity to the notion that she labored over this shifting skyscape while herself approaching an existential threshold.

Decidedly evocative of the in-between, Otto-Knapp’s faceless bodies, merging silhouettes, and ominous clouds can ultimately be interpreted as sentinels from the artist’s subconscious: an assembly of gestures that reside at the meeting point—a particularly palpable, fertile, and active threshold—between subliminal ideation and artistic creation. Whether physically, through process and form, or conceptually, her work establishes liminal thresholds not only as spaces to navigate through, but also as palpable gatherings rife with material tension.

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 34.

Silke Otto-Knapp, Untitled (c. 2021). Watercolor on paper, 9.5 × 12 inches. © Silke Otto-Knapp. Image courtesy of Regen Projects.

Silke Otto-Knapp, Untitled (c. 2021). Watercolor on paper, 11.5 × 15.5 inches. © Silke Otto-Knapp. Image courtesy of Regen Projects.

  1. “Silke Otto-Knapp: Versammlung,” press release, Galerie Buchholz, 2022, york-2022.
  2. Lauren O’Neill-Butler, “Silke Otto-Knapp,” Artforum 61, no. 5 (January 2023),
  3. On this note, it’s worth pointing out that, as an associate professor of painting and drawing at UCLA since 2015, Otto-Knapp would have been acutely attuned to this discourse.
  4. “Silke Otto-Knapp in Conversation with Solveig Øvstebø,” MAK Center for Art and Architecture, February 15, 2022, video, 14:20,

Jessica Simmons-Reid (MFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; BA, Brown University) is an artist and writer based in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree. She’s interested in the interstitial space between the language of abstraction and the abstraction of language, as well as the intermingling of poetry and politics. She has contributed essays and reviews to Carla and Artforum, among others.

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