Charles LaBelle: California Suite Select Works 1993 – 2009

January 11 – March 7, 2009

Traywick Contemporary Projects is pleased to announce an exhibition of work by Charles LaBelle.

Titled “California Suite: Selected Work 1993 – 2009” the show brings together a group of works in various media — photography, video, drawing and sculpture — that specifically engage the diversity of Californian landscapes, exploring its cities and deserts, coasts and roads. From Hollywood’s “Walk of Fame” to the Golden Gate Bridge; from Death Valley to Big Sur, LaBelle’s practice over the past fifteen years has continually involved a poetic engagement with place.

LaBelle studied at UCLA in the 1980s with noted California conceptual artists Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy and Charles Ray. LaBelle’s work also aligns itself with conceptual strategies specific to artists working in California in the 60s, 70s and 80s such as Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Eleanor Antin, Douglas Huebler and Bas Jan Ader.

Activities such as mapping, documenting, archiving and intervening are playfully combined to poignant, often humorous, ends that jar the viewer’s perception as themes of transience, loss, alienation and mortality become apparent in the work. LaBelle uses the body — often his own — as a signifier of the dramatic moment, a being-in-the-world moment. As seen in the photographic diptych “Grasping at Clouds (Golden Gate Bridge)” which show the hands of the artist holding small circular mirrors over the railing of the bridge. In the mirrors, the reflected sky creates a moment of reverie in contrast to the swirling waters below.

As Jim Demetre wrote recently, LaBelle “casts himself in the role of an enchanted wanderer, transforming the blighted urban sprawl or filthy city park into his social context, stage backdrop, and artistic medium. He captures the melancholy of the contemporary artist and individual without the usual romanticism that often accompanies it.”

Charles LaBelle has shown extensively across the US including exhibitions at Artists Space, New York; Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY; ArtPace, San Antonio, TX; Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA. He has received numerous awards and grants including a Getty Trust Fellowship; Rockefeller Foundation Grant; Lower Manhattan Cultural Trust Grant and a MacDowell Colony residency. His work was recently exhibited at the San Jose Museum of Art; The Neuberger Museum, Hunter College, NY; The Japanese-American National Museum, Los Angeles; Lawrimore Project, Seattle; and Para/Site Central, Hong Kong. This will be his fourth one-person show with the Traywick Contemporary.

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