Conversation about the work of Yang Fudong often turns to the Chinese artist’s alluring surfaces. Fudong has a predilection for film noir and introspective-looking young models, and these most famously come together in his stunning multi-channel video installations, which fragment his film to surround the viewer in a stimulating “screen environment.” “The Fifth Night” is one such example. However, Estranged Paradise, the artist’s mid-career survey now on view at UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2626 Bancroft Way, Berkeley), includes not this work but its more self-conscious double, “The Fifth Night (Rehearsal).” This version shows not the film itself but the associated camera monitor feeds, resulting in something more rough hewn and reflective upon its own artifice. This is emblematic of the exhibition as a whole. Modest in size but purposefully curated, it aims to direct focus upon Fudong’s role as a key commentator upon the culture of contemporary China, where two decades of consumer capitalism and intense urbanization have produced a psyche as fractured as the artist’s videos.
Museums Wednesdays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Dec. 22
The oil paintings of Los Angeles artist Linda Stark take her months, or even years, to create. Her piece “White Weave,” for example, required a process of repeatedly dripping thick stripes of off-white oil paint onto a canvas. Each separate layer took weeks to dry before the next could be applied. The product is a textural statement, a weaving of paint that reflects the painstaking nature of women’s handiwork. Like most of her pieces, it transcends the two dimensionality of the painting process, forming a sculptural subtly that is affecting in its soft indentations and outward bubbling. The same supple semblance appears in “Brand,” a portrait of a naval in which paint is built up to portray the protrusions of the skin where they wrinkle around the awkward dip. Around the eye-like focal point is a red outline of a flower that looks as if it has been seared into the skin of the painting, with pink irritation surrounding it. Now on view at BAM/PFA in Linda Stark / MATRIX 250, Stark’s pieces are poignant and important meditations on the pains of being a woman.