Through March 5
Los Angeles–based artist Matthew Lutz-Kinoy has built a tunnel out of canvas, and its mouth is all you can see when entering the Freedman Fitzpatrick Gallery in Hollywood. The tunnel in this show, “To Satisfy the Rose,” resembles a sophisticated variety of the forts kids build out of sheets and blankets, this one supported by a bamboo structure whose walls are painted with undulating lines and aquatic splatters. Tall people may have to bend down before entering, as the opening is less than 6 feet high. Inside, there are small rectangular windows irregularly spaced. If you look through each, including the ones you have to get on your knees to reach, you’ll encounter tableaux that, while not pristine, appear carefully assembled. Ceramic vessels and loosely abstract paintings made by Lutz-Kinoy may be accompanied by notes in which the text is backward and upside down. “I didn’t want to use poisons,” says one sentence in a note suspended above a brownish vessel resembling an ashtray. These limited glimpses of objects and messages recall filmic dream sequences, or the scene in Being John Malkovich where the actor crawls toward a portal into his own memory.
Lutz-Kinoy’s 2014 installation at Freedman Fitzpatrick was also immersive in its own way. Canvases covered all the walls, and video projections played out across loosely rendered flowers, blocks of color, and floating figures. But that show still felt like a painting show, and the semi-abstraction seemed aligned with the post-Internet neo-formalism that was on trend. In this current show, the paintings swallow you, and everything feels so specific to the gallery space that it’s hard to imagine the work having a life anywhere else.
Across from the tunnel, there’s a short film playing against a far wall, showing a man lingering in sand-colored ocean water while scuba divers on the ocean floor communicate using a blue Etch A Sketch. When one diver pokes tentatively at a turd-like object on white sand, another explains, via Etch A Sketch, that this is a “sand cleaner.” It doesn’t make much sense, but it’s not that outrageous either, which is the territory over which Lutz-Kinoy’s show hovers. The installation’s strange internal logic announces itself quickly, and then the navigation process becomes routine: you must bend or kneel to look through a tiny window to see a small installation similar to the last small installation you saw, before moving on to the next window. You emerge from the tunnel, look about, and then return in the way you came.
This straightforwardness does not disappoint, however. Consider other installations that involve shoe removal, such as James Turrell’s “Ganzfelds” or the video by artist Jesse Fleming currently looping in a Santa Monica meditation studio. These command a certain reverence and quiet. Lutz-Kinoy’s installation does not. Nor is there much of the apocalyptic sense associated with other builders of ad-hoc environments, such as Debo Eilers or Agathe Snow. Lutz-Kinoy’s slightly unkempt, somewhat domestic, borderline nonsensical fantasy space is all embracing. Once you’re in, all that is required is willing engagement.