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Controversial art on display in Chinatown

By Sonali Kohli
Published: Monday, April 16, 2012, at 08:54AM
Courtesy of Mat Gleason

Chinatown's newest art space, Coagula Curatorial Gallery, will open April 21 with a provocative exhibit.



Chinatown's newest art gallery, the Coagula Curatorial Gallery, is opening with a provocative exhibit this weekend.

Los Angeles artist Tim Youd’s latest artwork will be on display starting April 21. The exhibit, titled “Coney Island of the Mind," is the inaugural show in curator Mat Gleason’s gallery.

Youd creates art by engaging with provocative sentences and passages from canonized literature. This set of sculptures and paintings is based off a quote from author Henry Miller’s 1938 novel “Tropic of Capricorn.” The passage Youd uses describes women’s genitalia in what Youd describes as darkly comical ways.

The sculptures in the center of the exhibit are 12-foot tall rectangular pedestals with rotating tops that feature the quote, as well as images of Miller.

The walls will have paintings of women’s lower body parts painted in a more natural style.

“It’s my reaction to the text,” Youd said, “And I’m using that as an element in my work.”

He said he's inspired by feminist art, and doesn't mean for his work to degrade women — rather, it acknowledges what's constantly on people's minds, Youd said.

Gleason chose Youd’s work because of its provocative nature.

“I wanted people to come in and have a memorable experience not just visually," Gleason said. "I wanted them to have an emotional response to things.”

This is the response Gleason seeks in every endeavor he’s been a part of.

A self-proclaimed rabble-rouser, Gleason was expelled from California State University, Los Angeles 20 years ago for running an underground newspaper, and since then he’s been producing Coagula Art Journal . The gallery opening marks the 20th anniversary of the journal -- which he founded to counteract the typically sophisticated and sometimes dull language of art writing, Gleason said.

Gleason chose the name “Coagula” because it means blood clot, and alludes to the decadence of the Roman emperor Caligula, he said.

“I wanted blood and passion back in the world of art and art dialogue,” Gleason said.

Gleason’s approach can be polarizing; he is vocal about his opinions, which have led some characterizations such as the one from the L.A. Weekly which described the art critic as a “a cranky, self-exiled gossipmonger.”

The gallery will also feature an exhibit entitled “Beuys in the Basement,” with images that photographer Michael Montfort captured in 1949 of performance artist Michael Bueys.

Both exhibits will be on display until June 3.

The gallery is located at 977 Chung King Road. It's open Wednesday through Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment.

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