Friday, July 12, 2013


Reminder to self: I don't HAVE to review every art exhibition I see.  I don't HAVE to review every book I read.

That said, I just finished Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies.  It's a terrific sequel to Wolf Hall.  If you haven't yet read the latter, I'd suggest you start there.  Bodies more than lives up to the promise of the first in the series.  If English history fascinates you, as it does me, it's a great read.  (The period is Henry VIII, if you didn't know, and his first two wives...)  So, no review.  But a plug.

2013 California-Pacific Triennial at Orange County Museum of Art is a terrific, infinitely varied and complex show of artists from around the Pacific Rim.  It's worth more than a visit.  It's worth two visits.  You'll need that time.  One piece haunts me.  It's a huge painting by Wang Guagle, made in the manner of Chinese coffin painters.  They make their own coffin at age sixty, if I have the story right, and add a coat of paint each year until their death.  This artist has applied two layers of acrylic each day, edging them in a fraction to create an ascending order of depth toward the center...

Wang Guangle
120403, 2010
Acrylic on canvas
9 ft. 2 ¼ in. x 5 ft. 10 7/8 in. (280 x 180 cm)
Private collection, courtesy of Pace Gallery
Installation photo by Chris Bliss Photography
Gazing into the resulting surface is like being entranced by a James Turrell light/space environment--only in this case, the central, coffin-shaped area has the fascination of death, and reminds us of its certainty.  We are invited to enter its dark tunnel.  This is one of the most moving art works I have seen in a long time.

But there are others... This is not a review.  Metta to all!

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