SPACELAND V | War
SPACELAND began 8 years ago as a biennial outgrowth of Bermudez Projects, Los Angeles’ ultrainnovative art and performance venue. At the time, Bermudez said “I wanted the artists to capture LA, so I simply gave the them three key words that sum up LA for me: Vast, Light, and Modern.”
And that was the content of the first SPACELAND – exhibited at Bermudez’s downtown gallery – the splendour of our city. Two years later, in what was now a biennial event, SPACELAND II took a more dystopian view of the Southland of now – a city of horrors as much as splendours; of disappointments as much as triumphs. SPACELAND III inspired its participating artists to develop unifying concepts among their varying work, challenging their talents and visions. SPACELAND IV sought unification, or a statement that comprised “the totality of Bermudez Projects’ ethos.” Or that of a single, represented artist.
Said Bermudez, “I somehow knew that the next SPACELAND would portray war.”
The war is a result of the positioning of a rising tide of able young creators against the entire artistic hierarchy of Los Angeles, its nomenklatura of success, fame, wealth, power, recognition, and accomplishment. It’s a struggle that will stretch the horizons and aspirations of the upcoming SPACELAND generation as it overcomes what can best be described as The Opposition.
An opposition that is left undefined for now. But you know who you are.
Ironically, SPACELAND veteran John S. Rabe this time presents an array of what he styles as “Opposition” Art, which declares all of the SPACELAND art “out of compliance with Wartime Content Security Protocol.” He presents us with what he terms a dozen Opposition Propaganda Posters, each featuring a SPACELAND artist. Across each artist’s face lies a bright yellow scrawl that declares: “Artists are Dangerous!” along with the crime each artist is said to have committed: “Sensualism;” “Environmentalism;” “Free thinking;” and in Rabe’s case, “Objectivity.”
Notes Rabe, “I wouldn’t be surprised if this propaganda campaign – with posters spread all over Northeast LA and other parts of the Southland – backfires, drawing people to the cause of artists and the art that they produce to keep creativity and the freedom of thought alive.”
Bermudez Projects stalwart Erynn Richardson’s personal war is in the form of “nature in revolt” against Mankind, but with considerable ambiguity. Though her two paintings on view include the wild animals typical of much of her earlier work, they also flaunt a spirituality inspired by the Christian depiction of St. Sebastian – martyred by a myriad of arrows. Done on paper in watercolors and soft pastels, the pictures embrace what Richardson terms “a Christian Geometry.” With a stag portrayed in one painting and a swan in the other, both are transfixed by rays of light wrought from gold leaf.
“The rays are either attacking the creatures (like arrows) or emitting from them,” Richardson says. Adding that the major influences on her diptych are the St. Sebastian paintings by Old Masters Il Sodomo of Italy and Angel Zarraga of Mexico.
Emmanuel Crespo revisits one of his constant themes, Man and Crow combined into a triptych – in constant battle with each other – plus a large-scale mural painted throughout the interior gallery. Eight other Bermudez vets will weaponize this remarkable show with their talents – Enrique Castrejon, Yolanda Gonzalez, Gordon Henderson, Leticia Maldonado, Cody Norris, Josh Patterson, Gabriela Ruiz, Ana Serrano, Kellan Shanahan – and amaze those who come to see it.