L.A

Wet Paint in the Wild: Artist Monsieur Zohore Rode Out His L.A. Gallery Opening Inside a Bespoke Coffin-Turned-Kissing Booth


Welcome to Wet Paint in the Wild, the freewheeling—and free!—spinoff of Midnight Publishing Group News Pro’s beloved Wet Paint gossip column, where we give art-world insiders a disposable camera to chronicle their lives on the circuit. To read the latest Wet Paint column, click here (members only).

Monsieur Zohore’s absurd, irreverent artwork tends to steal the show wherever it’s on view. While the artist is best known for his paintings on paper towels and his confrontational, campy performances, Zohore’s work often makes people laugh at first, then realize that these pieces are searing satires of deeply troubling racial realities in America.

His new show at M+B in Los Angeles, “My Condolences,” is a satire of the outsized trend of figurative painting by Black artists in the art market. The artist asked 93 different artists to paint, while at the opening, Zohore lied in a handmade casket and asked viewers to kiss him through a cut-out in the wood (it’s on view now through February 18th). Let’s take a look at what that process was like…

Bonjour, je m’appelle Monsieur Zohore and welcome to the installation of my most recent show “MZ.25 (My Condolences)” at M+B in Los Angeles. Putting a show together with 93 artists in it was an all-hands-on-deck kind of situation. Even my gallerist, Benjamin Triggano, was doing construction work.

A lot of people thought I had a death wish when I told them I was trying to get 93 artists to make portraits of me, to which I would respond “No, I have a death wish because my contribution to the show is a coffin that is also a kissing booth.”

If all of this wasn’t enough chaos I decided to crank out a few more of my paper towel paintings just for shits and gigs.

A long day wouldn’t be complete without a long dinner with my two favorite French clowns, Benjamin Triggano and Olivier Babin. Meals with them are always dinner and a show.

Planning meetings with Tess from the gallery all took place at a Lisa Vanderpump establishment because why not? You know you would too if you could. Here we are in front of Sur.

This was the most innovative install I have ever experienced. Benson from the gallery had a solution for every problem, like how to reheat pizza at lunch.

A show of 93 portraits meant 93 sittings. Here I am after posing for Marianne Simnet at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Closed out this day with a bougie sushi dinner with Cameron Patricia Downey, who flew in from Minneapolis for the show.

Back at the gallery on the last day of install and it’s go big or go home, like this massive Fawn Rogers video sculpture. Pro Tip: Track suits from Target make your ass look great.

Had to move the studio outside…for my hangover after having too many bougie sushi martinis at dinner last night.

But here comes my bestie Jo Messer to the rescue. She always knows exactly what I need to get through the day.

Install is finally over and I go look for a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T with LaKela Brown.

You haven’t lived till you give a lecture in a coffin you built for yourself.

I never thought my last supper would be vegan tacos in L.A. with Sandy Williams IV, Aaron Fowler, LaKela Brown, and Claude Wampler, but I can’t say I mind.

Claude Wampler told me It’s bad luck to not buy a new outfit for your opening so we had to go shopping.

And it’s even worse luck to not have you fit cosigned by the baddest chick in the room. Thank god Chiristina Ine-Kimba Bolye waltzed in just in time.

I hope you didn’t think I was kidding when I said I built myself a coffin that is also a kissing booth.

Could have done this piece all day. My only regret is not charging for the privilege of my smooches.

Performance is over and it’s finally time to party. Nicole Nadeau and Jade Catta-Preta gas me up as I wait for my celebratory special chocolate to kick in.

My chocolate finally hits and I decided to spend the rest of my opening rolling around on the floor. Thank god Lucy Bull was down.

Who else would you want driving the getaway car than Auttriana Ward in this wig! My mind on chocolate could not be more pleased!

Not sure who took this picture but bless them for making sure I looked my best.

Nothing is better for a hangover than gossiping with Claude Wampler over lobster.

This was my first time going to the beach in L.A. and I have to say it was worth the wait… even if I had to simulate my own death to get there.

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Dealer Francois Ghebaly Is Opening a Second Space in L.A., Joining a Growing Throng of Galleries in Hollywood


Veteran Los Angeles dealer Francois Ghebaly is expanding into a new space in Hollywood.

Next week—not coincidentally just ahead of the latest edition of Frieze Los Angeles—he will open a his second gallery in a raw, un-renovated space, left “as we found it.”

“I was looking for spaces and I came across one that was perfect for us,” Ghebaly told Midnight Publishing Group News. The dealer previously operated galleries in L.A.’s Chinatown and then Culver City in the early aughts. For the past decade, Ghebaly has run a space in downtown L.A. “We’ve been downtown about 10 years. We have a wonderful space and community there and it’s been very successful. We love what we’ve done there.”

The facade of Francois Ghebaly's new space in Hollywood. Image courtesy Francois Ghebaly.

The facade of Francois Ghebaly’s new space in Hollywood. Image courtesy Francois Ghebaly.

“We’re not moving away, we’re expanding,” he said of the new Hollywood locale, which is situated off of Santa Monica Boulevard, on Poinsettia Drive.

“We are going to have a wonderful gallery that kind of keeps the spirit of our downtown gallery.” Both spaces are housed in 1940s-era buildings with brick facades.

Ghebaly said the new site is “basically the very beginning of West Hollywood, so my immediate neighbors are Karma and Nino Meier, and right down the street from Jeffrey Deitch and Matthew Brown.”

Sharif Farrag, Bodach, (2019). Image courtesy the artist and Francois Ghebaly.

Sharif Farrag, Bodach, (2019). Image courtesy the artist and Francois Ghebaly.

The gallery will open with a show of work by Patrick Jackson, and then will shut down for a while. Ghebaly is in conversation with several architects about the space, but hasn’t decided what route he will take.

When the gallery reopens, it will be with a solo show from Sharif Farrag, a young L.A.-based artist. Farrag’s fantastical ceramic sculptures feature a mashup of imagery including body parts, cigarettes, pop-culture cartoon references and imagery from graffiti and skater culture as well as his Syrian-Egyptian heritage. “He’s been building on an incredible body of work,” said Ghebaly.

Patrick Jackson, Heads, Hands and Feet, (2011). Installation view, "Made in L.A. 2020: A Version," The Huntington, Los Angeles, CA.

Patrick Jackson, Heads, Hands and Feet, (2011). Installation view, “Made in L.A. 2020: A Version,” The Huntington, Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is “such an ever-changing city and there is a very exciting group of galleries and a great community that is developing in Hollywood,” Ghebaly said. “L.A. is such a large, wide city that there are many cities within L.A. itself. In Hollywood, something very exciting is happening right now, and I felt like it would be interesting to be a part of it.”

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The L.A. Art Scene Is Expanding in Time for the Frieze Art Fair Amidst a Billionaire Scion’s Bold Investment in an Up-And-Coming Area


While reporting my doom-and-gloom column last week, I spotted a glimmer of hope: Los Angeles.

So I decided to follow up on it.

Indeed, the art scene in the City of Angels has been undergoing a major expansion, and anticipation is now building around the Frieze L.A. art fair in mid-February—an event that is poised not only to be a celebration of the West Coast art capital but also the year’s first stress test for U.S. galleries writ large. The fair is going through its own leveling-up, with a larger new venue in Santa Monica and 120 exhibitors, 20 percent more than at last year’s edition. Coinciding with Frieze are at least four other art fairs, as well as openings and other festivities by newcomers, including a cluster of New York galleries, led by David Zwirner, which is flocking to East Hollywood. (Although that opening is being delayed, more on that later.)

The locals, meanwhile are doubling down. L.A. mainstay Hauser & Wirth, for instance, is opening a new 5,000-square-foot location in West Hollywood with new paintings by George Condo priced at $2.6 million to $2.8 million. Nearby, homegrown François Ghebaly Gallery will launch a 3,000-square-foot branch, its second in the city. Entrepreneur Stefan Simcowitz’s recent opening of a gallery in Pasadena is followed this week by a new space on the ground floor of the Mohilef Studios downtown.

George Condo, Psycho (2022). Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
Photo: Thomas Barrat

“There’s a lot of momentum,” said Mills Moran, co-founder of the local Morán Morán gallery and the Felix Art Fair. “L.A. is growing.”

Some of the excitement can be traced to a new art hub sprouting in East Hollywood. Dubbed Melrose Hill, the area was first populated by vendors servicing Paramount Studios and later furniture showrooms, whose column-free, high-ceiling layouts seem readymade for contemporary art galleries. These days, streets appear desolate, with empty lots and trash on the sidewalks.

Turning the area into a walkable, artsy, and cool destination is the passion project of Zach Lasry, the 32-year-old son of Marc Lasry, the billionaire hedge fund manager and co-owner of NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks team.

“He was just very motivated to make the neighborhood something organically interesting,” said Allegra LaViola, owner of Sargent’s Daughters gallery, which signed a five-year lease with the younger Lasry. “He liked the idea of a neighborhood that had a little bit of a New York vibe. You get out of your car, you can go to this restaurant, go to this coffee shop, go to this gallery, to a cool boutique—instead of getting in a car, driving to one thing, getting out of the car, getting back in the car, going to another thing.”

Morán Morán was first to sign on, opening a gallery near a gas station on N. Western Avenue in August 2021, with a 10-year lease. The 5,000-square-foot space with skylights was an upgrade from its former 3,000-square-foot quarters in West Hollywood.

“We were really early,” Moran said. “We saw Zach’s vision. It wasn’t hard to visualize. They’ve been acquiring property there for a long time. Our conversations started before the pandemic.”

Others followed. Clearing opened a temporary space in September. Sargent’s Daughters and Shrine, who share a space east of Dimes Square in New York, are moving in next month to coincide with Frieze L.A. James Fuentes will follow in March, across from Morán Morán.

James Fuentes, Los Angeles.

New York gallerist James Fuentes’s new Los Angeles outpost. Courtesy of the Gallery.

The biggest kahuna in the area, of course, is David Zwirner, whose limited liability company paid $6 million in 2021 for a building at 606 N. Western Avenue and another $1 million for a two-bedroom house with bars on the windows around the corner last year, according to property records.

The gallery had planned to launch its first West Coast flagship in time for Frieze L.A. with a long-awaited show of Njideka Akunyili Crosby. But the chatter mill is abuzz that the 15,000-square-food project by Selldorf Architects got mired in construction delays, and won’t open till later this spring. A spokeswoman for the gallery confirmed that it’s not debuting during the week of Frieze but declined to elaborate.

Moran said that his new neighbors are discussing coordinated openings to draw people to the up-and-coming area. Safety may be a concern, at least initially.

“There’s so much homelessness, it’s actually dangerous,” said Simchowitz, the art establishment’s perennial gadfly. A homeless man threw an iron bar at his car when he was in the area this week, he said.  

I raised the issue of safety with some New York transplants.

“It reminds me of Delancey Street, where the gallery is in New York,” said Fuentes, who signed a 10-year lease in Melrose Hill. “I never felt like I needed to be extra-concerned.”

 

Jemima Kirke, Bride in a Dark Room (2017) will be in Sargent’s Daughter’s first L.A. show, “Death of Beauty.” Courtesy: Sargent’s Daughters

LaViola said that she always takes safety into consideration, leading her to install a buzzer at her New York gallery, but that she wasn’t too worried about Melrose Hill.

Lasry’s plan to create denser foot traffic is part of what drew her to the area, she said. Affordable rent, a feature of a fringe locale, was another. “I would pay the same price for 500 square feet on the Upper East Side, where I would be on the third floor, as for the ground floor in Los Angeles, where we could renovate to our own specifications,” she said.

 

“Knowing that there was this built-in association was really key,” LaViola said.

Alison Knowles, The House of Dust Edition (1967). Courtesy of the artist, James Fuentes, and LACMA.

Alison Knowles, The House of Dust Edition (1967) will be part of “Coded: Art Enters the Computer Age, 1952–1982” at LACMA. Courtesy of the artist, James Fuentes, and LACMA.

Los Angeles has been increasing in significance for Fuentes, who has been cautious not to overextend during his 15-year gallery career. But a generation of budding collectors has made L.A. their home since the pandemic, taking advantage of remote work policies, resulting in a new pool of clients. The area is famously home to many artists, useful for the expanding gallery, and proximate to Asia. Fuentes’s artists show in the city’s world-class institutions. One, Alison Knowles, will be included in a group show about the rise of computer technology at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art next month.

“I am so careful with these types of decisions, and I spent a lot of time analyzing it and considering it,” Fuentes said about his move. “I am going into it with optimism.”

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