26 February to 4 April 2015
The running joke here is it takes you 30 minutes to drive anywhere—“anywhere” being a qualifier for a place that mattered. In truth it’s closer to an hour. I’m accustomed to the start-and-stop lurch of bumper-to-bumper traffic in Los Angeles. I feel no frustration upon seeing miles of brake lights snaking away from me; the more familiar feeling is a dull resignation, settling in my chest. Lately I’ve been timing my commute to avoid the maximum swell of rush hour traffic—arriving late, leaving late. I regulate my days by this schedule. It is predictably dull. But if I time my departure from the office right, from Valencia to La Cañada the sun at my back floods my rearview mirror with a hot orange. Twenty minutes later, nearing LA, I’ll glance to the west and catch the most seductive sunset: all red and violet. The sky vibrates, then smolders, with colour. I veer my car towards the light and start to drift out of my lane. And yet even in this fleeting encounter with the sublime I cannot suppress the truth. Matter-of-factly, this glorious display is produced because of the smog that hangs in the air.
This is perhaps a facile anecdote to talk about Krista Buecking’s work but when I look at her current suite of drawings I see nothing but Los Angeles skies. They are seductive and full of promise, as well as oblique and pointedly empty. Buecking’s adroit and ironic stance borrows symbols and motifs from this landscape, the land of the Human Potential Movement, Synanon, and other self-activation woo-woo making way for the “me generation.” It’s still here. Underneath that veneer of “I’m OK, you’re OK” there’s something unnerving about this place, where our desire can also be a source of our alienation. I read it on the billboards and in Didion, I hear it on the radio, I see it in the sunset.