Sunday, February 5, 2012

Drill Team at Fabien Castanier Gallery

DRILL TEAM AT FABIEN CASTANIER GALLERY -- Upon entering the Fabien Castanier Gallery last night at its opening for new works by L.A.-based Michael Kalish and Paris-based Eric Liot, one was almost tempted to do a double take -- for what was seen at first was not what it appeared to be -- and that was the intrigue that set the tone for the evening and for the exhibit titled "Drill Baby Drill" (which runs through March 4th).  Owner Fabien Castanier (shown in lower right photo in black) is a longtime veteran of the art world in Los Angeles, Paris and Corsica -- as well as having a background in the TV and film world in his native Paris.  The opening of his namesake gallery in Studio City (just over the hill from Hollywood) has provided an opportunity to showcase both established and emerging artists from around the world -- often with a thought-provoking twist -- and this exhibit is a prime example of that.  One half of the gallery is filled with what appears to be key works by such blue chip artists as Warhol, Lichtenstein, Van Gogh and many others.  Upon closer examination, one finds that these "homages" by Michael Kalish (top photo) are actually constructed from license plates from various states -- an item which has obsessed him for years, spurring an immense range of artworks created solely from license plates (his "American Presidents" in the windows of Barneys New York in 2000 featured 42 presidents rendered from license plates from each president's state!).  Kalish told Studio of Style at the opening at Castanier that the Ode to Lichtenstein 3 piece (shown above) was the first in the new series created for this show and that he even had a conversation with Dorothy Lichtenstein, the late artist's wife, who was very enthusiastic about Kalish's concepts. We immediately fell in love his work and spent a great deal of the evening enjoying the construction and whimsy comprising his pieces.  Of course, the theme "Drill Baby Drill" refers to the fact that both Kalish and Liot use power tools to cut, rivet and screw together their works.  Eric Liot (bottom left photo) created every piece in the show (with one exception of the famed Bibendum, i.e. the Michelin Man shown here) in California and his pieces certainly reflect the colorful, sun-filled setting all around us.  Using mixed media, vivid colors and drawing upon lots of pop cultural icons, Liot builds layer upon layer and fastens them together with screws for a thoroughly dimensional effect.  With two rooms at the Castanier gallery filled with Liot's work, there is something for everyone -- we loved Guerre et Paix #4 which shows the beloved Minnie Mouse looking quite happy and oblivious to her being surrounded by menacing weapons on all sides -- can you figure out the message? We certainly did! And we'll certainly be back to take in the layers of pop cultural fun and color from the imaginative minds of Kalish and Liot -- you will join us, won't you?
Photos by Greg Firlotte