Curator Jill Moniz has a non-commercial project space in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles called Quotidian. My recent visit saw three equally fascinating facets: the space itself, the proprietor’s vision for running the space and the excellent exhibit “Four Women” on view.

The large exhibition space that is Quotidian would appear to be another white cube if one were to only look at a floor plan. But entering the space disabuses that notion immediately. The tall walls on the immediate left and right are painted black and have remnants of previous walls and plaster, gunk that holds things stiff, bumps here and there. The floor is a melange of previous tenant improvements, tiled mosaic interrupted by concrete, while the ceiling has gutted holes in lowered facades, sharing glimpses into the past as Downtown L.A. lurches further into the future. As casual as this unfinished historic layering might seem, it does nothing to interfere with the visual art on display.

To add to this overall magic casualness is the Moniz business plan for the space. That is to say, there isn’t one. She simply wants a space where there is no pressure from commercial concerns to get in the way of curatorial desire. In this regards, Quotidian is pure, more pure of even the museum and non-profit exhibition spaces in this town that declaim commerciality, yet so reliant on the contributions and connections of artists’ galleries that there is inevitable compromise in almost every curation. But not here. What you see is exactly what this interesting curator wants you to see.

And see it yours truly did. The exhibit’s title “Four Women” undersells the theme of the exhibit. Moniz has curated a compelling visual art synthesis of external, internal and conceptual architectural themes. In the center of the main room on raised platforms are sculptural work by Magdalena Suarez Frimkess. Ceramic vessels, they were produced over almost twenty years and in that time we see the artist evolve from decorative patterning to addressing colonial structures. Her painstaking illustrative work on the outside of these pots changes over the years as does the solidity of the structures. Once conceptual attitudes change, form inevitably follows.

Large photo collages by Kyungmi Shin are dramatic celebrations of the rhythm of exterior architecture in a variety of places around the world. Bordering on the Baroque, the layering of textures serves to reflect a whirlwind visit to the appointed villages. From Ghana to Inglewood to the Sci-Arc library, Shin amplifies Cubist concerns with a subtle reflection on the identity of place we all either absorb or see reflected during our visits. These are masterpieces of micro-structure as it forms meta compositions.

The Quotidian space could easily host these four artists in a traditional “showcase show” where each artist gets their own wall. But the curator chose to intersperse the presentation. For an artist like Shin, that lets each frenetic work have its own space, almost allowing viewers to rest up after each encounter. The paintings of Veda B. Kaya are perfect respites, compliments to the amplified visual energy of Shin’s collages, with meditative passages of shadowed layering. The illusionistic space of these almost classically Modernist pictures is vast and pleasurable. Based on geometric patterns found in the Blue Mosque in her native Istanbul, Kaya is a painter who knows how to make our eyes involuntarily swim laps around her pictures. The effect here is a soothing reminder of the comfort interior spaces are capable of delivering.

The radical photographic prints of Charisse Pearlina Watson are at first a complementary inclusion to the show. Like the other two wall work artists these are oversize pieces. They visually deal with geometric structure and a chiaroscuro of elementary form. But deeper analysis reveals these to be not just pleasant pictures. Weston’s work is extremely process-based, involving the building of sculptural pieces, photographing and destroying them and forcing the remnant shards of these things to scrape and compose the very photos of themselves the artist intends to display. Like the Quotidian space itself we are looking at a time travel of relic, reliquary and living object defeating defunct space. There is a solemn drama in this exhibit and one can assume in the curatorial adventures Jill Moniz will be undertaking at her Quotidian space.

“Four Women” ran thru October 21st, 2018 at Quotidian.

Mat Gleason

Author: Mat Gleason

Founder of the highly controversial Coagula Art Journal (the “National Enquirer of the Art World” as the New York Observer called it), Mat Gleason is an internationally recognized art critic and curator of contemporary art. The New York Times described him as a “famously provocative Los Angeles art critic,” while the L.A. Weekly once referred to him as a “cranky, self-exiled gossipmonger.”

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