Divided Brain at LAVA Projects Gallery

Divided Brain at LAVA Projects

Opening reception: Sunday November 11th from 4-8pm

Sunday November 11th to Sunday December 16th

LAVA Projects is located at 2417 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

Michael Alvarez

Eric Beltz

Brian Cooper

Erik Frydenborg

Wendell Gladstone

Greg Ito

Ben Jackel

David Jien

Susan Logoreci

Robyn O’Neil

Ron Rege Jr.

Colin Roberts

Brian Robertson

Jim Shaw

Curated by Brian Cooper and Colin Roberts

“Divided Brain” is an exhibition of drawings, paintings, and sculpture by 15 Los Angeles artists, updating traditions of surreal and imaginative figuration and representation.

Among these artists’ many concerns, their work converges as a balancing act between two opposing impulses: one encompassing control, detail, and skill, the other embodying an odd sense of dark, unbridled imagination. For each of them, a sense of mastery must be challenged by the presence of something feral. At the same time, this unrestrained quality must be enhanced by some element of grace. This equilibrium could be interpreted as a simultaneous depiction of what is sure and of what is uncertain—a mirror of the two hemispheres of the brain.

In his 2012 book “The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World,” Iain McGilchrist points out that the brain’s left hemisphere is concerned with the known, while the right hemisphere is focused on the unknown. One is a manager, the other an explorer. It is on the threshold between the two where a psychological “feeling of meaning” occurs.

Too much attention to the known world, and one becomes listless and oppressed by familiarity. Too much attention to the unknown, and chaos reigns.

The artists in the show approach this idea from diverse viewpoints. Some—like Susan Logoreci, Greg Ito, Brian Robertson, and Robyn O Neil—depict landscapes as semblances of psychic or symbolic spaces, tenuously connected to the physical world. Others, like Michael Alvarez and Wendell Gladstone, produce allegorical representations of the human figure, laced with subtle disruptions of normalcy and stable appearances. Still others, like Winnie Truong, incorporate the body into psychedelic arabesques, where hair and flesh are transformed into ornate filigree.

Many of these artists—like Jim Shaw, David Jien, Brian Cooper, and Colin Roberts—work with dreamlike imagery that veers into fantasy and myth, while retaining sublimated criticisms of our social order. Others, like Eric Beltz and Ron Rege Jr., explore idiosyncratic notions of spirituality and its complex, sometimes bizarre intersections with the secular. Still others, like Erik Frydenborg and Ben Jackel, produce sculptural objects that foreground handcraft, even as they hint at menacingly obscure technologies like hi-tech weaponry or mysterious alien devices.

In some ways, “Divided Brain” hints at our current state of political and cultural polarization. In generalized terms, good managers tend to be conservative, while good explorers tend to be liberal. This show may provide a modest symbolic pathway out of conflicts between left and right. Jonathan Haidt, in “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” writes about how we can borrow from eastern philosophies like Hinduism and Daoism to see that within a group, or even within one’s own mind, a balance between destroyer/creator, explorer/manager, must be reached to achieve a sincere sense of purpose and direction.


LA Looking Banner

'L.A. Looking, or how to engage your stranger friends,' brings together a multitude of approaches to contemporary portraiture. In the included works, some artists push their portraits toward abstraction, while others offer uncanny reads of their subjects—friends, lovers, strangers, public figures, and themselves.

In colloquial use, ‘Stranger friends’ refers to online-only acquaintances. An oxymoronic term, it attests to the range of intimacies, relationships (and the inherent contradictions within) that the selected artists approach. Many of the included portraits intimate a reciprocal exchange—a tenderness even—between sitter and maker. Other works deliberately upend the terms of this intimacy, instead offering critical perspectives on the construction of representational images and the act of looking itself.

Through a variety of media and techniques, including oil on canvas, sculpture, photography, digitally mediated images, and found objects, the artists in 'LA Looking, or how to engage your stranger friends' reference historical conventions of portraiture while attempting to disrupt such restrictive structures.


Human Nature Card

This show explores the juncture of the man-made and natural worlds within our metropolis. It is co-curated by Mahara Sinclaire and Colin Roberts, and is the fifth installment of the Lazy Susan curatorial series by Sinclaire.

"LSV: Human Nature" consists of 17 Los Angeles based artists working in photography, printmaking, painting and sculpture. Their works straddle the harsh divide of the colliding worlds of manmade structured space and nature's increasingly elusive presence within it. Within this constant struggle, these artists remind us of our deep, magical connection to nature and how it underlies our rushed societal framework in a variety of ways. "LSV: Human Nature" invites us to pause and rekindle our fascination with nature as it peeks at us through cracks in the concrete walls of our grey jungle.



An exploration of paper as a contemporary medium for expression. Collage, books, origami, painting, drawing, pulping, photos, construction, masks, etc. all made using paper. The most human of all mediums for creation and recording; ubiquitous and humble, paper can be used to make whole worlds. Paper has destroyed whole cultures and preserved others. What is paper in the digital age? Vestigial tool? Fetishized nostalgia object? Flexible and perennial studio standby? These artists answer with their work. Curated by Christopher Wilde.



Fresh Start brings together visionary art makers from various backgrounds that deal in completely different ideas, techniques and materials with drawing, painting and sculpture. The commonality between all this work is that it seeks to break ground and spread awareness of ideas in a much stronger way than previous years. Whether conceptually, figuratively or abstractly, the complicated world we live in, coupled with so much more visual cross dialogue thanks to technology , is causing all artists in LA to rethink and strengthen their creative processes. Fresh Start allows the viewer to see how each of these artists deal in their studios with this through a year of intense feelings and new beginnings. Art is such an important tool for processing and talking about the intense environment around us. The artists in Fresh Start are creating information that helps move this conversation along faster and smarter, to accomplish a Fresh Start for the audience as well. Curated by Colin Roberts.



Please join us for the group exhibition METAL opening at LAVA on Saturday September 2nd from 7 - 10pm. Curated by Colin Roberts.



LAVA Projects, a new contemporary art gallery in Los Angeles, is hosting its first exhibition "everything is coming up roses." Curated by Patrick Nickell.