Candles and Lasers
Kohn Gallery is pleased to present Los Angeles-based artist Tom LaDuke’s first solo show at the gallery, titled Candles and Lasers. This exhibition will feature paintings ranging from small to very large-scale, and a selection of sculpture meticulously carved from elemental materials such as graphite, pewter and salt. These pieces reference the topography of a range of subject matter from Botticelli’s La Primavera (1477 – 1482), to a half scale portrait of the artist’s head nestled, as if sleeping, inside the skin of his arm.
This exciting exhibition features new sculpture and paintings that subvert the conventions of these mediums to underscore the various conditions (psychological, material, social, formal) that work to obscure understanding and perception. This body of work will continue LaDuke’s existential investigation into the nature and location of the Self, as viewers are self-consciously confronting objects that intentionally veil their subject matter.
Tom LaDuke’s painstakingly constructed paintings also toy with the boundaries of perception and recognition. Layering representational scenes (from film and art history, for example), with bold abstraction, LaDuke negotiates between the conceptual, material, spatial and formal issues inherent in painting. Abstract expressions dance atop the most precisely rendered compositions, flattening the layers of the painting to a single plane. These fresh daubs of paint and glitter complicate the viewer’s ability to enter into the familiar representations, underscoring the artist’s exploration of reality versus perceived reality.
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In 11 new paintings by Tom LaDuke, the surface of the canvas is a broad playground -- a thoughtfully constructed place for the artist and the viewer to enjoy themselves together.
The fireworks display in Tom LaDuke’s “Before Before” is based on a family photograph from the artist’s childhood in the 1970s, and his own (green) head appears in an oblique double profile above the central explosive. The frame of a swingset evokes his recollection of a youthful romantic crush.
When Tom LaDuke recounts his artistic process, it can be a challenge to keep up. The L.A.-based painter and sculptor’s thoughts are a rapid-fire game of connect the dots that catapults from the depths of art history to personal memories to various degrees of existentialism.