The Beatitudes of Malibu, at David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles, is an exhibition of works by more than 40 artists and poets that respond to, depict, question, or are inspired by landscapes of all kinds. The exhibition is on view through July 2, 2021.
The Beatitudes of Malibu borrows its title from a poem of the same name by Rowan Ricardo Phillips; in the poem’s eight parts, the poet engages in a series of encounters with natural, social, and aesthetic landscapes associated with Los Angeles, but also with the full spectrum of myths, narratives, and allusions these landscapes elicit.
On the occasion of the exhibition and its accompanying poetry booklet, David Kordansky Gallery is hosting a virtual reading with poets Tongo Eisen-Martin (also reading Bob Kaufman), Gabriela Jauregui, Ann Lauterbach, and Cedar Sigo on Thursday, June 17 at 5 pm PT via Zoom.
The Beatitudes of Malibu employs a broad range of approaches to the landscape genre by bringing together artists whose paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and poems are born of divergent—and often conflicting—legacies. Freely mixed, for example, are abstract and representational depictions of the natural and urban worlds. But on an even deeper level, the totality of the works on view juxtaposes a number of entirely distinct positions vis-à-vis the environments that make up a “landscape.”
These distinctions can be geographical and generational. Lauren Halsey’s wall-based “funk mound,” is a vivid representation of what South Central Los Angeles looks and feels like both in physical reality and in the heart and mind; its realism transcends the visual realm and suggests that landscapes have an internal dimension. Other works acknowledge and confront the construction of landscape as a social invention. In mixed-media photographs by Sky Hopinka, handwritten text is etched around the edges of each image, offering reflections on what it means to be in relation to the land on emotional, psychological, and political terms; landscapes are shown to be places where individual human experiences intersect with larger forces, and where time and physical space are relative quantities. A painting by Raul Guerrero addresses the competing narrative strata that lie beneath the surface of any image of place, and pays particular attention to the ways in which Indigenous cultures, ongoing legacies of colonialism, and popular aesthetic forms populate the landscapes of the Southern California imaginary.
With respect to the various interpretations of landscape by the artists and poets featured in The Beatitudes of Malibu, we at David Kordansky Gallery would like to acknowledge that our spaces were built and physically reside on the traditional homelands once known as Tovaangar (Los Angeles basin, Southern Channel Islands) and home to the Tongva people—later referred to as Gabrieleño and Fernandeño by Spanish colonizers. We understand that acknowledging the gallery’s occupation on Tovaangar homeland calls for us to commit to continuing to learn how to be better stewards of the land we inhabit. In all facets of our work, we remain committed to creating inclusive and equitable spaces by implementing policies and practices that promote diversity and sustain an environment of mutual accountability.