Lakwena Maciver, “Just Passing Through,” 2015, mixed media. (Christopher Knight)
There is something really special about Papillion Art. Tucked away on a block that’s hidden in Leimert Park is this “paradise” in a neighborhood that usually doesn’t get those accolades. It’s only fitting that they would host an exhibit by an artist who work helps to emphasize that feeling. Papillion Art, with its pristine white walls and high ceilings, provides a canvas of thought for any artist that’s preparing an exhibition there. I’d like to think that owner Michelle Papillion secretly structured the gallery this way to see how each artist would take advantage of the space.
“I Remember Paradise” by Lakwena MacIver is one of those exhibits that take advantage of the space with color, combines it with pixie dust, and transfers your brain to your favorite amusement park. The color in the work is exciting, but controlled in a way that doesn’t take away from the meaning of the strong texts presented in the center of each piece.
Upon entering the gallery I found that it was a piece of artwork that was understated that immediately caught my attention. The words “Welcome to Dreamland” in gold, with a walkway so tiny I soon thought we would need a harmonic rhythm reminiscent of Willy Wonka for passage to the next show room (laughs).
One striking piece across from “Dreamland” was the “Imagine Eternity” piece with its late 80’s TV screen center surrounded by a camouflage of color, with the print signifying army fatigues and subliminally hinting at a future of television and war. The black bars and squiggly lines represent a border to where eternity ends. A powerful piece to me with an underlying meaning that maybe Lakwena didn’t even mean to exude. Or maybe she did. That’s what so awesome about these pieces.
I wonder when Lakwena was choosing these pieces if she knew that the words in her work would directly correlate to the personality of the neighborhood that she was presenting it to? Hmm maybe a question for the day I meet her. Strong statements like “Imagine Eternity”, “Built To Last” and “The Best is Yet To Come” help speak to the neighborhood’s resilience, and ultimately its resurgence.
After checking out the opening room, I decided to head through the “Willy Wonka” tunnel into the second showroom where there was this huge statement piece from Lakwena with the words “Just Passing Through” with the sequence on the words being assisted with wind from a nearby fan. The wind from the fan, along with colors and content within the artwork, simulates movement in a way that helps guide you almost the way a traffic sign does. It nuts because with that being the biggest piece, I think I spent the less amount of time looking at it. Maybe it was its overwhelming signage, or the obvious message telling me to get the hell on to the next piece.
On the other walls, were more of Lakwena’s colorful messages filled with bright colors and a consistent strong textual center. The “Faded Glory” piece made me laugh because it reminded me of the intro to “Saved By The Bell”, a hit TV show in the 90s, with all of its color and reference to school composition.
In an adjoining room, the exhibit continued with a collaborative installation with musician “Abimaro” exploring the relationship between the first and fifth note in a scale. I actually didn’t realize until I got home that you could actually play these! Something in me wanted to go for the gusto but I didn’t want to be the guy that started banging around stuff in the other room and get escorted out (laughs).
One thing I thought was cool about the exhibit was the color in the instruments. I wondered if there was some sort of association with the size of the beams the instruments were on and the color combinations accompanying them. Maybe if I had played the darn instruments my questions would have been answered (shaking my head).
This exhibit is definitely one to see while cruising through the vibrant district that is Leimert park. It definitely gives you a flash forward look into the communities and the gallery’s futures. And when you go, be sure to play the instruments!
Lakwena Maciver: “I Remember Paradise” January 17, 2015 – March 15, 2015, Papillion Art Gallery | http://www.papillionart.com/
Badir McCleary Editor in Chief
Badir McCleary is an independent consultant. He holds a M.A. in Arts Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art (Los Angeles/London) where he focused on creating art markets and with an undergraduate degree in Internet Computing from Cabrini University focusing on e-commerce and digital trends. Badir enjoys working with artists and consider them crucial to informing his practice.
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