The landscapes in downtown Long Beach

A little messy and fluid, a little chaotic, and a little more frightening.

The streets downtown in Long Beach last Saturday were closed off for people to dance around and dress up. Art was on the walls in the Newberry Lofts on Pine Street.

Max Presneill: Redact

Max Presneill: Redact

I liked the glowing squiggly line surrounded by violet, up above the center on the left side. I have been thinking about portions of space and color in abstract art since I talked to Kim Marra last month at Unitas. That night, she was showing a large piece called Backyard #2 and she pointed at a field of blue way at the bottom, as her favorite part of the painting.


Kim Marra: Backyard #2

I stared at it and saw what she saw, the balancing effect that corner area had on the rest of the painting.

Kim Marra had something on display here today, too.

I thought about that blue area from ‘Growth’ while I was standing on the third floor of the Newberry Lofts, holding a cup of white wine and gazing at Max Presneill’s ‘Redact.’ I was thinking about the effect a single element, no matter how small, can have on all the other elements on the rest of the canvas. With Presneill, I specifically liked the squiggly teal thingie, surrounded in space by an area of dark blueish-purple. I like those colors against each other, and those particular colors really only show up in abstract art. I was wondering what the artist himself thinks about this, squiggly lines in abstract fields of violet, so I checked out his website.

I am interested in what the act of painting means and how it can explore multiple avenues of enquiry simultaneously. From existential questions, to an awareness of presence and mortality, to notions of masculine codes, all can be encompassed, for me, within the structures of thought and application of material that painting represents. When I die my paintings are what will remain. They contain my memories, hopes and dreams. An identity of sorts and the drive towards cognitive meaning, all within the political possibilities in painting.

Ugh, arty bollocks. Why do people talk about art like this? It’s inscrutable and off-putting. It discourages me from understanding what’s going on with the squiggly coils and the composition of color, when it should be helping me along. And the thing is, I really liked the rest of Presneill’s work! You can see in this one, more bold colors, and more of those squiggly coils giving it a real dynamism and energy.

Max Presneill

Max Presneill

Across the room, in the Newberry Lofts, was a dystopian diptych by Reginald van Langenhove.

Reginald van Langenhove

Reginald van Langenhove


Red sky. Fresh corpses strewn about dusty streets. Three men at the center of it all, in black suits, unfazed, survey the wreckage — the implication being that they’re somehow responsible. What’s not to love here?

“It reminds me of Manet,” said Paula McColm, a pre-school teacher checking out the scenery. “I like the idea of commentary on everyday disaster,” she said.

Aesthetically, I like the loose brush strokes, the constant variations of color and tone across all the surfaces. It makes the scene feel a little messy and fluid, a little chaotic, and a little more frightening.

Art in Space was put on by the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art.