Aha. At last. Something truly tough, and up to taking on the Katzen's concrete. Something by Bruce Conner, the famous bad-boy of West Coast art, pioneer of wildly experimental films (the Katzen will screen some the evening of Nov. 10), of trippy light shows and of junk assemblage. For its launch, the Katzen has shipped in 29 large works on paper -- covered top to bottom and edge to edge with teeny, tiny, fanciful Rorschach-style blots.
It's hard not to be bewitched by the sheer multitude of forms on show, and not to marvel that a technique as crude as ink blotting could create such a snowflake variety of filigree. It would be lovely to hang one or two of these delicate abstractions in a library or reading room or other intimate space so that a tired mind could take a wander through them now and then. En masse, spotlit in a darkened gallery, they're as likely to numb the mind as refresh or provoke it.
The show is called "After Bruce Conner" because many of the inkblots are said to be by the three "assistants" named in the subtitle, working under the famous artist's supervision. (In 1999, when Conner turned 65, he polemically declared himself "retired" from artmaking.) It's hard to know if that "after" is an accurate description or if it's a conceit whereby the artist himself has created alternate personas to take credit for his newest art.
Or maybe that "after" could mean something else: That the bold Conner art of old is gone, and that this newer, slighter work has taken its place.