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Cohort: LA Abstraction in Conversation at SHRINE


For a newcomer to the city, the L.A. art scene can feel dominated by its academic institutions (I experienced this as a new transplant to the city in 2013 after finishing my MFA in another state). This was an experience curator Thea Smolinski also shared upon moving here from NY as she noted how the L.A. institution an artist had gone to would often be uttered in the same breath as their name. In Cohort, Smolinski gathers a group of artists that have loose academic ties — one taught another at ArtCenter, several went to UCLA — yet all are dedicated to abstract painting practices that seem to eclipse their academic pedigrees. 

Loose similarities can be traced across the works; many works feature textured surfaces using unconventional materials like marble dust (Nick Aguayo), safety pins (Allison Miller), salt, ash, and incense (Claire Colette). Others (Megan Reed, Nick Aguayo, Math Bass, Heather Brown) traffic in flat geometric shapes that layer to create dynamic surfaces. Gracie DeVito and Pui Tiffany Chow both use smaller delicate brushwork to build up their surfaces. What’s clear is that influence can happen outside of classroom walls, and a cohort can be defined by genre as much as education. 

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Photo: Cohort: LA Abstraction at SHRINE. Image courtesy of the artists and SHRINE.