Los Angeles – Urs Fischer: “Ice Cream Truck Democracy” at Gagosian Beverly Hills Through April 22, 2023

April 12th, 2023

Urs Fischer, Schmalifornia (2023), via Gagosian
Urs Fischer, Schmalifornia (2022), via Gagosian

This month at its Beverly Hills location, Gagosian presents Ice Cream Truck Democracy, an exhibition of paintings by Urs Fischer. In this new series of works, which occupies a range of sizes and formats, Fischer combines silkscreened, hand-painted, and hand-stenciled imagery, applying a collage-like aesthetic to his personal observations of Los Angeles.

Urs Fischer, Citizen's Arrest. (2023), via Gagosian
Urs Fischer, Citizen’s Arrest. (2023), via Gagosian

A longtime resident of the city, Fischer turns his always observant eyes towards the city as landscape, of the process of movement and “passing through” that defines the city in so many ways. Rather than aiming for a comprehensive portrait of the city, Fischer evokes the experience of moving—by car, bike, or foot—through a visually rich and ever-changing metropolitan environment that is impossible to pin down through singular, static depiction. Incorporating fragments of his own photographs, his new paintings blend figuration and abstraction, reflecting a characteristically American preference for the fragmented and the episodic over central or iconic imagery.

Urs Fischer, Digital Melancholia (2022-2023), via Gagosian
Urs Fischer, Digital Melancholia (2022-2023), via Gagosian

Urs Fischer, Coloratura Soprano (2023), via Gagosian
Urs Fischer, Coloratura Soprano (2023), via Gagosian

Each complex urban landscape tells, in Fischer’s phrase, “a tale of ten cities.” Images and select scenes bleed together, materials, skylines and advertisements all taking their moment in the LA sun. Something akin to a pop version of Balla’s Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash could be read into these works, the swirling sensation of moment woven directly into the visual and expressive depiction of each of the artist’s scenes here. By contrast, others simply conjure the ghostly lamps of an empty West Side street at 3am, ghostly hues and white, glimmering reflections dominating the works. Others, like Citizen’s Arrest, are merely a documentation of textures and color, a completely different read of surface impressions that define the show.

These are a striking collection of works no doubt, ones that see Fischer focusing in particular on the canvas and away from some of his more adventurous conceptual operations of late. True to form, the show seems to make an interesting point about the city itself. In a town where so much time is spent moving, why wouldn’t a painting of it merely document its surfaces?

The show closes April 22nd.

– D. Creahan

Read more:
Urs Fischer: Ice Cream Truck Democracy [Exhibition Site]