VENUS LA (601 South Anderson St., Los Angeles, CA 90023, USA), Jul 30–Sep 10, 2016
Symbolic of freedom, romance, machismo, and recklessness, the automobile is an indispensable part of American life, beheld as an extension of the owner’s status and identity. Hippie art cars, Chicano lowriders, Merry Pranksters’ psychedelic school bus, and motorcycle gangs all call California home—in particular Los Angeles where the weather is perfect all year around, public transportation is practically nonexistent, and the web of freeways extends to each corner of the urban jungle.
This exhibition at Adam Lindemann’s VENUS is a fitting tribute to the city of LA and its deeply entrenched car culture. The artists approach cars as both objects and subjects to test their relationships to painting and sculpture, the relationship between artworks and commodities, and in order to investigate socio-political dimensions embedded in man’s obsession with cars. From Richard Prince’s black muscle car to Sterling Ruby’s giant bus (lined with confinement cages and a cell of sub-woofers and chrome in the rear) to Matthew Day Jackson’s custom-built super comp dragster, “there’s a lot of extended adolescence in the work,” as Richard Prince once observed. He further argues, “[C]ars like the Challenger and Charger were in movies like Vanishing Point and Bullitt. I don’t think it was an accident that Dennis Hopper was driving a ’69 Charger in Blue Velvet.”
But not all the vehicles in this fun fair are about revealing the male psyche and social tension. Popular culture also plays a role. Katherine Bernhardt, whose Brooklyn studio is located in a former car-detailing shop, adds tropical flavor to a 1994 Jaguar XJ6, while Kenny Scharf “karbombz” (a slang term invented by Scharf for spray-painting cars) a 1975 Pontiac Gran Ville Convertible with über kawaii pink smiley sharks, and adorns its wheels with happy daisies and crystal flowers.
 Lisa Phillips, “People Keep Asking: An Introduction,” Richard Prince, exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1992, p. 45.