Dilexi Gallery: Disparate Ontologies
The Landing is pleased to present Dilexi Gallery: Disparate Ontologies, a restaging of Dilexi's exhibition history and curatorial approach as part of a multi-venue retrospective across Los Angeles and San Francisco. Dilexi Gallery, first located upstairs from a jazz club in 1958, exhibited a wide range of styles and techniques in a rhythmic and organic dialogue. Disparate Ontologies takes inspiration from Dilexi Gallery's group shows, which highlighted the work of brilliant artists but also offered viewers a new realm of meaning through unexpected ontological pairings.
Active through 1969, Dilexi Gallery played a key role in the cultivation and development of contemporary art in the Bay Area and beyond. Taking cues from Ouspensky’s idea of the noumena and De Chirico’s metaphysics, Dilexi’s young director Jim Newman had an implicit understanding of works that engaged paradigmatic shifts, embraced new philosophical constructs, and served as vessels of sacred reverie for a new era. Dilexi artists included two generations who had fought in war and saw their work as a vehicle for both catharsis and protestation. Dilexi offered its era a secular outpost with the possibility of transforming the Cold War’s ideological crisis into a revolution of illumination.
Dilexi presented artists who not only became some of the most well-known in California and American art, but also notably distinguished itself by showcasing disparate artists as a cohesive like-minded whole. It functioned much like a laboratory with variant chemical compounds that, when combined, offered a powerful philosophical formula that actively transmuted the cultural landscape, allowing its artists to find passage through the confining culture of the status quo – towards a total liberation and mystical revolution. The work shown at Dilexi in these years reflected the desire to present the dichotomy between organic vitality and formal elegance, engaging the new materials and technology of its day. It served as a pivotal stepping-stone that brought Bay Area art international exposure, providing the framework for its artists to be included in some of the most groundbreaking museum shows and international collections of the 20th century.
The Landing examines the broader identity of Dilexi Gallery presenting ephemera cases and films from the Dilexi Series broadcast on KQED. Disparate Ontologies argues that an art gallery has the potential to become a laboratory of ideas which facilitates radical change. Dilexi ultimately played a pivotal role in the shift of both consciousness and culture seen in the years of the gallery and its aftermath.
Dilexi Gallery: Disparate Ontologies is curated by Laura Whitcomb. Additional Dilexi retrospective venues include Brian Gross Fine Art (San Francisco), Crown Point Press (San Francisco), Parker Gallery (Los Angeles), Parrasch Heijnen Gallery (Los Angeles), and Marc Selwyn Fine Art (Los Angeles).
With special thanks to Dallas Price and Bob Van Breda, University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, Stiftung Künstler-Nekropole Kassel, and Jim Newman and Jane Ivory.