Michael Kohn Gallery, 2003

From the Los Angeles Times, by Holly Myers, Special to the LA Times 

Christian imagery in difficult medium

The five tapestries in Bruce Conner’s stirring show at the Michael Kohn Gallery were fabricated by the same studio that produced those now hanging in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels downtown. Like those works — which were designed by John Nava and feature Realist depictions of the saints — these are also predominantly figurative and filled with Christian imagery. Derived from a series of black-and-white collages that Conner produced in the late 1980s and early ’90s, the works make excellent use of a difficult but potentially powerful medium.

The images are bold enough to stand up to the monumental proportions, yet visually complex enough to retain a rich texture. The Renaissance-style iconography plays into the historical nature of the medium, while a Surrealist bent lends them a contemporary vitality. It’s unlikely they will ever appear in a church. What comes as a surprise is the feeling that that wouldn’t be such a bad idea.  Whatever the nature of Conner’s personal beliefs — it’s not especially evident here — there is a striking luminosity to the presence of his Jesus. The milieu is decidedly Surreal: Several figures have heavy geometric blocks for heads, a bare-breasted woman lounges across one image and Jesus carries a huge pair of scissors in another. The effect, however, is less wry or clever than almost mystical. Each element contributes an esoteric resonance.

April 20, 2004

I like to think of myself as a rather objective observer of the Los Angeles arts scene, so it’s not often that I find myself daydreaming about buying a sexy work of art. Last week I caught myself doing just that – daydreaming – and to be completely honest, I’ve done it more than once. Here is a diary of my guilty fantasies…

The main space of the Michael Kohn Gallery in West Hollywood has been painted for this occasion in rich blue to dramatically offset the large woven tapestries illustrating scenes from the New Testament. The first impression is that someone got a clever idea to replicate, on a large scale, the delicate, black-and-white engravings. But actually it is new work by well-known artist Bruce Conner, whose long career is full of surprises. For quite some time he has been making small collages based on old engravings; now he has decided to give these collages new life transforming them into large, striking, tapestries. It’s interesting to see how, on such a large scale, the slightly surreal character of his original collages is transformed into a powerful spectacle.

Quoting the famous words of Tevie from ‘The Fiddler on the Roof’, let me say if I were a rich man, I would buy one of those tapestries and hang it on the walls of my non-existent dining room. Oh! What wonderful dinner conversations I can imagine, sitting with my friends under this tapestry.

From Art Talk, KCRW.com

Michael Kohn Gallery
8071 Beverly Boulevard Los Angeles CA
Tel [323] 658-8088 Fax [323] 658-8068



Diogenes Lucero | Bruce Conner