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Throughout his career, Jeremy Anderson rode numerous waves of refinement and freakdom, continually translating the tidal shifts between these two seemingly conflicted tendencies. In Anderson’s painting, Balaclava (1965)—the first viewable thing in his current retrospective at the Landing—the top portion is made up of custom wood shingles and the bottom is an illustration of short stakes on canvas—the proportions almost mimicking that of bullets—along with the phrase “BALACLAVA FRIED-AT-BELIEF-STAKES.” There is a ‘B’ located at the bottom of each stake shape: Balaclava or Belief? An eccentric skepticism is felt here and elsewhere in the exhibition.
The main gallery space introduces a selection of mid-century plaster sculptures in near-pristine condition—think Twombly, but less poetic, or Bourgeois, but less psychological. A taller plaster piece (Untitled, 1952) channels a birdcage or a prison. On a purely formal level, Carnac and Gitane (both 1950), would look equally at home in a New Mexico arts museum or on a Star Wars film set. A skinny, nubby antenna-like teak totem (Untitled, 1953) funks up the more elegant precedents set by many of the now-canonized modernists.
Elevated onto a plinth in a back corner is an untitled work from the ‘70s with two red hands clutching and climbing a partial rope supported by a cylindrical white base—a fragmented scene, a plumbed concept. On the other side of the room, where one of the red fingers points, is a wonderfully gaudy depiction of a woman (Belladonna Amaryllis, 1970), lying nude, stiffly thrusting her pelvis towards the ceiling. Both literal objectification and a remarkable reverence are inherent to this piece—the sugar pine, shellac, and fake tiger skin connote erotic desire, yet the attentive specificity suggests an elusive romanticism—a sensitive balance not commonly communicated, even in the slippery age of free love.
Jeremy Anderson: Taking the World Apart is Easy, It is Getting it Back Together in an Acceptable Form That is Difficult runs from September 16–December 16, 2017 at the Landing (5118 W. Jefferson Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016).