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How to Remove Stains at Del Vaz Projects is comprised of a series of collaged rugs/tapestries and composite furniture by Sophie Stone and Jessi Reaves, respectively. Stone’s floor pieces interweave disparate textiles into gridded fields of plastic mats and second hand carpeting. The compositions are then bathed in a wash of preordained tan paint, creating a homogenized and subtly institutional tone. While primarily the rugs are floor bound, in some instances they begin to spill up walls; inching ever closer towards the Promised Land of painting. Reaves’ chairs sit stoically under the gaze of her curvilinear shelving units, constructed from raw plywood and reconstituted saw dust. They seem like interlopers from a dream in which Noguchi plays Dr. Frankenstein, reanimating ghosts from the canon of design history. The ensuing tableau melds into a cloud of undulating plywood, swooping, yellowing foam, and tumorous tufts of beige and fleshy pink.
Both artists choose to work in categories analogous to—but decidedly beneath—those typically placed at Western art’s pinnacle: painting and sculpture. Yet, in contrast with the precise fabrication methods and reductive logic of much contemporary design, these works preference an ad-hoc construction and found materials that carry embodied histories. This allows the work an emotional and narrative dexterity that is devoid in the mirrored interiors of Santa Monica’s mausoleum-like mansions. In contrast with the “stay off the grass” ethos of West L.A., Reaves and Stone have created a scene where the guest/viewer is invited to trod, sit, and touch as they please, alluding to the politics of art and accessibility.
While art that welcomes a physical connection with the viewer is certainly nothing new, what sets this exhibition apart is a feeling of generosity (or even love) that permeates everything Reaves and Stone have touched. Through an admixture of practical problem solving and utopian proposals, Reaves and Stone have gone beyond merely displaying hollow signals of the domestic; they’ve absorbed its strategies and created a space for us where there was none. And like most brushes with utopia, How to Remove Stains feels like a dream you’ve been waiting a long time to have.
Jessi Reaves & Sophie Stone: How to Remove Stains runs January 15-April 15, 2016 at Del Vaz Projects (1600 Westgate Avenue, Apartment #208, Los Angeles, CA 90025).