“Alex Israel: Play It As It Lays”

Art, Contemporary art
Alex Israel, Self-Portrait (Rear-view Mirror), 2018
Photograph: Courtesy Greene Naftali

Time Out says

This Los Angeles artist unabashedly embraces the vacuity of LA-LA Land, a place where surface appearance trumps lived experience. If anything, Israel’s work insists that beneath that surface lays more surface, a Warholian proposition reflected in the way Israel, like Warhol before him, assumes a deadpan persona. While Andy sported a silver wig as the Pope of Pop Art, Israel perpetually wears sunglasses to define himself as an echt-Angeleno. Of course, no such thing actually exists, a point emphasized by Israel's signature motif: Using his self-portrait in profile as a physical template for his pieces. That includes the paintings hung here, as well as the doorway leading into a multi-screen video installation of the artist hosting a talk show. Its set (which resembles the loggia of an opulent Spanish-style Beverly Hills mansion) takes up the center of the gallery, while onscreen, Israel interrogates local celebrities—Tom Hanks, Wolfgang Puck, Kris Jenner—with questions like, “If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?” Although inanity might be the one word to describe Israel's work, he lets us in on the joke.

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