Los Angeles – Huma Bhabha and Michael Williams: “Bhabha Williams” at David Kordansky Gallery Through February 25th, 2023

February 13th, 2023

Michael Williams, Paired Puzzle 1 (Frog/Farm) (2020), via David Kordansky
Michael Williams, Paired Puzzle 1 (Frog/Farm) (2020), via David Kordansky

On view this winter in LA, and open for extended hours during the run of Frieze Los Angeles this week, artists Huma Bhabha and Michael Williams are part of a dual artist show at David Kordansky, featuring new sculptures and works on paper by Bhabha, and new paintings and drawings by Williams.

Michael Williams, Puzzle Painting with Extrapolation (Goblin) (2020 - 2022), via David Kordansky
Michael Williams, Puzzle Painting with Extrapolation (Goblin) (2020 – 2022), via David Kordansky

The artists, who share interests in the inherent qualities of their chosen materials, here enjoy a blend of abstract and figurative modes to arrive at evocative and expressive works. Bhabha’s sculptures, often made from cork, wood, and paint, are vivid depictions of beings whose earthiness is paradoxically the source of their strangeness. Williams’s paintings and drawings are as direct as they are engimatic and as attuned to the nuances of contemporary life as they are responsive to ever-shifting perspectives on art history. This exhibition, which marks the first time the artists have been paired, exemplifies their individual projects as well as their mutual concerns. Seeing their work together sheds light on each artist’s trajectory, even as it shows how distinctions between painting and sculpture—and between the artists themselves—become secondary to conversations that arise between discrete objects, each of which expresses its own personality and mood. What results is an environment like a psychedelic forest where powerful objects attract, repel, and ultimately absorb all living things into their vivifying field.

Huma Bhabha, Writer (2022), via David Kordansky
Huma Bhabha, Writer (2022), via David Kordansky

Throughout the show, use of related techniques connects works animated by contrasting spirits. Williams’s Puzzle Drawings, in which he engages in a self- perpetuating game of call-and-response and employs collage to disrupt narrative and graphic systems alike, are characterized by playful seriousness. They meet an unlikely partner in recent small-scale sculptures by Bhabha whose heads are fashioned from animal skulls. Collage and assemblage, respectively, give these works their physical immediacy; they also contribute to the matter-of-fact palette that serves as another way to categorize them. The Puzzle Drawings’ paper, pencil, and ink, like the juxtapositions of bone and charred cork that are found in Bhabha’s sculptures, generate clear contrasts as well as opportunities for subtle gradation. In each case, the seeming absence of color contains a wide variety of shades that, in turn, evoke open spaces within otherwise diminutive artwork.

Throughout, the show underscores the artists’s varied gestural experiments, exploring howthe mark and the process behind it can unify in commanding, immersive work. The show closes February 25th.

– D. Creahan

Read more:
Bhabha Williams [Exhibition Site]