February is L.A.’s busiest art month, with no less than five fairs kicking off around the city. Among them, Frieze Los Angeles, owned by Endeavor, returns in a new and larger location at Santa Monica Airport. As Frieze opens, THR catches up with four buzzy artists, all with new shows right now that explore the topography of Los Angeles.
In his beautiful yet melancholic landscape paintings—inspired by the German Romantic period and paintings of the American West—Kunath looks at the ideas of home and belonging. Born in the mid-1970s in East Germany, the artist moved to Los Angeles in 2007. “A big part of the concept of the show is my quest of finding home again and just realizing that it isn’t there anymore,” says Kunath, who splits his time between Europe and Pasadena. “In a spiritual sense I don’t feel home in one place, and I realized early on that that is the engine of my work, this forever quest to define home.” Among the pieces in his new show, I Don’t Know the Place but I Know How to Get There, at Blum & Poe is the clever Cars & Coffee Los Angeles, which depicts L.A.’s car meetup culture amid the landscape seen in Albert Bierstadt’s famed 1864 painting Valley of the Yosemite. “I go to these [car enthusiast] meetings in Griffith Park. And it’s a little bit funny [seeing] all these cars with the sublime nature,” says Kunath, who sees L.A. as “a complicated city full of substance but also full of surface. I think this is still the best city for an artist to step into—this roller coaster of never-ending dualities and paradoxes that it holds.”
Kunath, who has a studio east of DTLA, shares that his search for a sense of rootedness in his life has taken him through a “dark and quite existential phase.” But at this point in his life, he’s begun to think he may have found a spot that feels like home: “One of my favorite musicians David Berman used to say, ‘Songs build little rooms in time’ and I feel like paintings do that too. After 48 years, I’ve surrendered to the thought of having a home in my work.”
Where: Blum & Poe, 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., through Feb. 25
Who Collects: “Friedrich’s work is the perfect ethos of Los Angeles—brightness and noir,” says Endeavor executive chairman Patrick Whitesell. “It drew me in because of its romantic view of the world filled with lots of humor and irony.”