Eras­ing art’s bound­aries

Los Angeles Times - - Calendar - Jorge Pardo Jori Finkel jori.finkel@latimes.com

Jorge Pardo has some se­ri­ous fans. He’s a dar­ling of cer­tain de­sign mag­a­zine editors be­cause of his artar­chi­tec­ture-de­sign cross­over ap­peal. He got a glow­ing re­view this sum­mer for his show at Gagosian Gallery Bev­erly Hills from The Times’ David Pagel. And the pow­ers-that-be be­hind the MacArthur awards have just named the L.A. artist a 2010 fel­low, which car­ries with it a $500,000 grant.

Pardo, 47, made his name in the art world in the 1990s by work­ing the fine (or postDuchamp, vig­or­ously erased but ever vis­i­ble) lines be­tween art and de­sign, and also craft and com­mod­ity. In 1998, he opened what would be­come his home, at 4166 Sea View Lane in Los An­ge­les, as a work of art (MOCA pre­sented the “ex­hi­bi­tion”), be­fore set­tling in him­self. A cou­ple of years later, he fa­mously cov­ered the lobby and book­store of Dia Cen­ter for the Arts in New York in glossy, col­or­ful tiles that made a paint­ing out of the build­ing’s in­te­rior. And for years he has been mak­ing his sig­na­ture hang­ing lamps for pub­lic spa­ces or the hide­aways of wealthy art col­lec­tors.

His work was early on grouped with that of An­drea Zit­tel, who also re­thinks do­mes­tic spa­ces. But over the years, she has in some ways grown more philo­soph­i­cal and he more tech­no­log­i­cal in em­pha­sis. Be­ing an artist for Pardo means, among other things, be­ing a fab­ri­ca­tor. The last time I vis­ited his stu­dio, he had a dozen em­ploy­ees run­ning var­i­ous work sta­tions: It was part wood­work­ing shop, part plas­tics man­u­fac­turer and part graphic de­sign out­fit, com­plete with laser cut­ters and a wood router to turn com­puter im­ages into three di­men­sions.

In 2007, the Los An­ge­les County Mu­seum of Art’s di­rec­tor, Michael Go­van, tapped Pardo to de­sign LACMA’s pre-Columbian gal­leries, and he pro­duced a se­ries of un­du­lat­ing wood cab­i­nets to dis­play the ar­ti­facts. Times art critic Christo­pher Knight called the in­stal­la­tion “con­cep­tu­ally so­phis­ti­cated and vis­ually smash­ing.”

When I in­ter­viewed Go­van around the same time for a 2008 Esquire mag­a­zine fea­ture, he picked Pardo as one of five artists who will be re­mem­bered 75 years from now. (Yes, it was the mag­a­zine’s 75th-an­niver­sary is- sue.) “Peo­ple think Jorge Pardo’s work is about fur­ni­ture be­cause it’s made of wood,” Go­van said. “That’s such a red her­ring. He’s re­ally work­ing on the bound­aries of art, ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign — cross­ing gen­res and ask­ing the ques­tion: ‘What is art?’ ”

Go­van also pointed out that most of Pardo’s work is just plain gor­geous.

Matt Har­bicht

IL­LU­MI­NA­TION: Jorge Pardo, in his stu­dio, is known for his hang­ing lamps.

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