At the beginning of UCLA’s fall quarter, my Daily Bruin editor sent me on a last-minute story covering two exhibits opening at the Hammer Museum. One was Eva Hesse’s Spectres 1960 and the other was Mark Mander’s Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments. I ended up just writing the story on Hesse’s forgotten portraits and self-portraits, while another student journalist covered Mander’s sculptures. You can read that here.

While I found Hesse’s phantasmic paintings to be both beautiful and moving (both in a rather dark way), I was simply ravished by the Dutch artist’s work: Clay goddesses shoved between books and sideways coffee tables; pseudo Egyptian rat-dogs lying on their sides; cave paintings dancing above the modern ritual of business meetings. Manders, who actually led the walk-through that I attended, talked about his works as different rooms in the house of his brain.

To go along with his analogy, it would be superficial of me to call his exhibit a madhouse, even if that’s what it may appear to be at first glance. Rather, Manders creates a tomb, filled with timeless archaeological artifacts. It is difficult to determine if an object comes from a Pharaoh’s crypt, a 19th-century meat-packing factory, or your grandmother’s attic. Manders even scatters pages of a fake newspaper he wrote around the exhibit. There are no dates or stories on the paper, just words. Columns and columns of Mander’s favorite lexical artifacts.

The aesthetic spans centuries, combining savagely primitive wood sculptures with classically beautiful women’s faces formed in clay. His use of metals and household furniture delve into design culture history: both the factory and its objects become art. I have to invent a term to describe Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments: it is a domestic collage of pseudo-archaeology.

I don’t if any of this would make any of our readers actually want to check out the Hammer’s riveting exhibit (especially since most UCLA students will be leaving Westwood shortly after finals next week). But really, you should check it out as it will only be around until January 2.

Advertisements