Merlin James’s “Arrivals”
              Jonathan Griffin
              My attention is more or less guaranteed by any exhibition that offers, within the initial sweep of its first gallery, a painting of an airport luggage carousel; a near-monochrome canvas, composed from grubby, rectilinear sections; a close-up picture of a blowjob; and a boisterous abstraction incorporating a tail-wagging dog and a swipe of glitter. All of the above were painted by the Glasgow-based, Welsh-born artist Merlin James, who has long been notorious for the confounding heterogeneity of his output. At any one moment he might be working on a landscape, an interior, an amorphic abstraction, a painting on translucent fabric showing off its elaborately contrived stretcher or frame, and/or an erotic painting of Betty Tompkins-level explicitness. Sometimes, he has said, he doesn’t know which direction the painting will go in when he starts. Often, his media extend beyond acrylic on canvas to include sawdust, metal filings, clear acrylic medium, ash, floor sweepings, or clipped human hair. Though widely respected in Europe, he is less well-known in California. “Arrivals”—which shares its wry title with that painting of the airport—is his first exhibition in Los Angeles, and the first time that many local viewers will encounter his elusive and occasionally perplexing work. …
              Ishi Glinsky’s “Monuments to Survival”
              Christina Catherine Martinez
              It was an emergency. A young brown girl had Tik Tok’d misinformation about the origins of punk. A podcast was assembled. A white expert was brought in. He used to skateboard. He said the girl was “probably a good person” but she didn’t know what she was talking about. A Reddit post began with a list of black and brown punk artists (Pleasure Venom, Big Joanie, Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex) and the thread spiraled into a tangled argument over whether or not they constituted the “real” origins of punk. I can’t believe these arguments are still happening. But then again, I’m still not certain I know what modernism is, only that it has failed us in some way, and I know that similar arguments occur about whether what we call “America” today started with brown people or white people, and what value judgements must attach to each tangled story. Sitting on the ground in the back room of Chris Sharp’s white cube gallery, Ishi Glinsky’s Tohono O’odham Basket (2013) looks like a tangle of wires shaped into a gourd-like vessel, a purposeful twist on the traditional baling wire baskets of his tribe. Each of the five works in this …

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