Whimsy + Indulgence at Art Los Angeles Contemporary’s 10th Annual Art Fair

Santa Monica's ALAC celebrates the playfulness of art on show

Away from the hubbub of Frieze Los Angeles and the intimacy of the Felix Art Fair, Art Los Angeles Contemporary (ALAC) celebrated its 10th anniversary this past weekend. Occupying the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica Airport, the fair felt comfortable in its own Olson Kundig-designed skin. Some 100 exhibitors—drawn from 19 countries—presented thoughtful, diverse and provocative pieces. Highlights were found everywhere. And yet a certain use of whimsical, indulgent blends of color, form and personality came together in many of our favorites. The six selections below represent this—and so much more.

Detail image by David Graver

Ajarb Bernard Ategwa’s “We Day for Attack” (2018)

Cameroon’s Ajarb Bernard Ategwa uses the human form to build skylines of people in public spaces. His colorful, graphic works convey both camaraderie and chaos. With 2018’s two-part acrylic on canvas painting “We Day for Attack” (brought to ALAC by Berlin’s Peres Projects), Ategwa’s warm palate and rippling background call to mind a hot day in Cameroon’s seaport city Douala. Here, friends and family members sell food and drinks.

by David Graver

Christiane Lyons’ “Marlene: Arrangement in Mars Black and Rosewood” (2018)

LA-based artist Christiane Lyons crossed conceptual art with figurative painting, as evidenced in “Marlene: Arrangement in Mars Black and Rosewood.” Two figures vie for space on a couch, as their forms become one. Desserts gather just about everywhere else. This oil on polyester painting was displayed by LA gallery Meliksetian Briggs. For all its cognitive challenges, it’s an enjoyable concept at play.

by David Graver

Claude Viallat: 1981/052 (1981)

The work of 82-year-old French painter Claude Viallat seems to be everywhere right now. From the Philadelphia Art Museum to forthcoming shows in New York and the Tsinghua Art Museum in Beijing. This large, rare acrylic on tarpaulin painting—displayed at Ceysson & Bénétière—features the artist’s signature, repeating bean-shaped patterns. There’s a gentle madness to the work.

by David Graver

Anthony Cudahy’s “Perched” (2019)

With “Perched” (2019), Brooklyn-based painter Anthony Cudahy indulges in a moment of pause—the act of a butterfly settling on a figure. And yet, two witness characters turn away. This acrylic and oil on canvas painting bounces shame from tension and disconnect. Brought to ALAC by New York’s 1969 Gallery, this piece depicts a trifecta that mimics the positioning of the three characters.

by David Graver

Corri-Lynn Tetz’s “Into this Shadow (desert suite)” (2018)

Montreal-based Corri-Lynn Tetz painted a whimsical romanticism with every stroke of oil on canvas that composed “Into this Shadow (desert suite)” (2018), which was brought to ALAC by Winnipeg’s Lisa Kehler Art + Projects. Its focus, in all meanings of the word, seems recalled from memory—and the woman character and her surroundings benefit from this.

Courtesy of Ever Gold [Projects]

Lazaros: Three Love Potions (2017)

Seen at the “bohemian installation” of San Francisco’s Ever Gold [Projects], artist Lazaros’ three “Love Potions” contain mixed media suspended in mineral oil. Produced in 2017, the three—numbered 12, 13 and 14—burst with color. They’re also all quite sizable, measuring 21 by 12 by 12 inches each. Gallery-owner Andrew McClintock’s entire exhibit tantalized but the three large vessels, containing everything from playing cards and fake plants to legos, stole the show.