Wall Street Journal
Tom LaDuke. Candles and Lasers
11 Apr–16 May 2015 at Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, United States
Kohn Gallery is pleased to present Los Angeles-based artist Tom LaDuke’s first solo exhibition at the gallery, titled Candles and Lasers. The exhibition features paintings in varying sizes ranging from small to very large-scale, and a selection of sculptures 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.
The sculptures and paintings in Candles and Lasers utilize the conventions of these mediums to underscore the various conditions that work to obscure understanding and perception. This body of work continues 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 toy with the boundaries of perception and recognition. Layering representational scenes (ranging from the history of film to the history of painting) 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 complicate the viewer’s ability to dive into the familiar representations, underscoring the artist’s exploration of reality versus perceived reality.
Tom LaDuke was raised in Los Angeles and received his MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago. His works are in the permanent collections of the Guggenheim, New York; MOCA, Los Angeles; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Portland Art Museum; Speed Art Museum, Louisville; and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, among others. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles.