The Endless Bummer

Francesco Gabbiani, Hot Panorama, 2003. Museum of Contemporary Art

Fires of the wildland-urban interface have become a trending topic for Los Angeles artists. The standout work of MOCA's "Lonesome Crowded West" (closed for Geffen reinstallation; reopens Sep. 10) is a large Francesca Gabbiani collage of airbrushed colored paper, Hot Panorama. It seems of the moment, even though it was inspired by Oct. 2003 So. Cal. wildfires that are eons ago in drought years.

Greg Ito has referenced L.A. conflagrations in hard-edge acrylic paintings. A 2022 example, Catnap, is on view in the Long Beach Museum of Art's "Loveline" (through Oct. 2, 2022). Catnap's window looks onto a wan sun in a yellow sky, recalling the airborne toxicity event of Sep. 2020. Inside, the clock is on fire. Only the candle flame seems harmless (like the caged lovebirds in Hitchcock's The Birds). 

Ed Ruscha's blazing L.A. landmarks and Carlos Almaraz's incendiary car crashes were counterfactual metaphors for a chaos lying beneath L.A.'s glossy surfaces. Gabbiani and Ito confront an apocalypse that's already here, and whose season is eternal. 

Greg Ito, Cat Nap, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Anat Ebgi


Anonymous said…
The candle holder in Ito's work reminds me of visual tricks where the image is either an object holding a candle or it's the profile of a face.

As for a lot of wildfires, the hijinks of wild and crazy arsonists in today's world are a factor too. After all, kids will be kids.