Brandon Lattu, New Works

Brandon Lattu: New Works
November 10, 2016–January 7, 2017
Opening reception: Thursday, November 10, 6–8PM

Koenig & Clinton is pleased to announce an exhibition of new works by Los Angeles-based artist Brandon Lattu. On the occasion of his fifth solo presentation in New York, the gallery focuses on three new bodies of work: Columns, Obsolete Subjects and Polish Villages. The Polish Village works directly reference Frank Stella’s famed series of the same name from the early 1970s.

Physically anchoring the exhibition are six evenly spaced columns arranged in two rows. Each column is divided into 12 different levels that progress incrementally in geometrical facets and each is clad in different materials across the rudimentary grid. Together, they seem to support a phantom second floor of the gallery.

Materials change from the straightforward reflection of light in a set of white painted and mirrored columns, to the separation of light in RGB mirror and visual spectrum columns, and lastly to textual references about colors from Frank Stella paintings circa 1958–1966 as well as hardwoods harvested at the end of the 19th century in the Eastern United States. At times, notational antecedents are specific in that they denote color or material, while in other instances they are tangential, nodding towards the implementation of a certain progression or the titling of a particular body of work.

Installed on separate gallery walls, once quotidian scenarios—a boy reaching for the receiver at a payphone, a girl withdrawing cash from an automated teller machine, and an old pushbutton phone—introduce Lattu’s Obsolete Subjects series. These works, like others throughout the artist’s career are printed at actual size, bringing the viewer closer to a readymade version of the original subject and prioritizing the in-person experience of the work. Meanwhile, a curved aluminum frame surrounds each image, matching the radial curve of the payphone and ATM as well as the mobile phone that is replacing them. This balance between presence and obsolescence is complicated by the realization that the figures in the images are not posed in front of the actual devices of fading technology but instead in front of life–size photographs.

Curved frames appear once more, this time with a noticeably thicker profile in the sinuous Polish Villages series. Visiting a turning point in Frank Stella’s practice, Lattu photographs black and white halftone reproductions from a museum catalog dedicated to Stella’s first reliefs—the Polish Village Series, works that Lattu considers to be among the first significant post-modern paintings. These reliefs were in turn inspired by Wooden Synagogues, a book by Kazimirez and Maria Piechotka documenting Polish wooden synagogues destroyed by the Nazis.

Rather than conforming to the curves of the reliefs themselves, Lattu’s images are shaped by the curve of each open book page that has been photographed in available light from reading distance (rather than scanned). In each image, the shaped relief has been systematically emptied out. Purposely abdicating any choice about color, the artist automatically fills the phantom shape with the matching tone of the surrounding page.

In a final gesture, Lattu lifts the artwork title that was originally printed in the lower corner and moves it to the center of the void. As the textual reference is reprioritized to the level of figure, patterning and resonance from the paintings themselves create the periphery. This short set of moves allows Lattu to economically reverse figure and ground on the page and by association the black and white reproduction of the painting.

Taken as a whole, this exhibition persists on the fringes of a delineated perspective, while subsuming challenges to its own placement. Though distilled in formalist context, Lattu’s works easily glide through their precepts to carry their own weight. Referents emerge, and dissipate, clearing an open territory for the viewer to consider history, both recent and receding while compressing the imperative of time. By triangulating sculptures, recent photographic images of outdated machines, and references to paradigmatic paintings of early post-modernism, Lattu forges technological and ontological links that span from the early 1960s to the present.

Brandon Lattu (b. 1970, Athens, GA) earned his M.F.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1998 and his B.F.A. from the Corcoran School of Art, Washington, D.C. in 1994. His solo exhibitions include: The Happy Lion, Los Angeles, CA; Vacio 9, Madrid, Spain; Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver, BC; and the Bielefelder Kunstverein, Bielefeld, Germany, among others. Recent group exhibitions include: Rideaux/Blinds, IAC Villeurbanne; Everyday Epiphanies: Photography and Daily Life Since 1969, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Electric Fields, Surrealism and Beyond, Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai; Attitude Cinema, Pesaro Film Festival, Italy; How Many Billboards, MAK Center for Art and Architecture, West Hollywood, CA; Walker Evans and the Barn, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Image for Image, Museum Ostwall, Dortmund, Germany; Tractatus Logico-Catalogicus, Vox centre de l’image contemporaine, Montreal; and The Movement of Images, at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Lattu currently holds the position of associate professor and chair of the art department at the University of California, Riverside; he lives and works in Los Angeles.

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