Paris Photo LA Returns With Strong Solo Shows and the LAPD's Archives

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Courtesy Paris Photo Los Angeles.

In its second year, Paris Photo Los Angeles feels wiser than the first installment—more contemporary and more reactive to the city of LA.

Located in the same dazzling location, Paramount Pictures Studios, the fair returns with an even larger footprint, additional gallery-filled sound stages, and a more local focus. One exhibition, "UNEDITED!: The LAPD Photo Archives," features rare photographs dating from the 1920s–1960s from the LAPD's Special Investigation Unit. A photograph from October 10, 1942 of two bullets holes in a car window, evocative of a pair of eyes, is a wonderful example of the rich selection of vernacular photography on display.

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Detail of two bullet holes in car window Date: 10-10-42 Photographer: Unknown.
©LAPD /Image courtesy of fototeka.

There are several quite captivating solo shows in the Paramount sound stages this year.

Daniel Blau, of Munich and London, brings a solo show of David Bailey's photography to Paramount Stage 32  in a definitive departure from the scenes of war and despair on view just weeks ago at the AIPAD Photography Show in New York. Bailey is a good choice. He speaks LA's language, and his work has a handmade quality: He rips pieces of photo paper prior to printing so they appeared torn at the edges. The effect gives each piece a unique expression that works well with his graphic portraits.

Another gallery that changed course from Paris Photo LA's first outing is Howard Greenberg Gallery, which teamed up with Bryce Wolkowitz  Gallery to light up Stage 27 with Edward Burtynsky's luscious photographs of water from locales including China, Spain, and Iceland. Burtynsky's patchwork depiction of water through the blending hues and textures of man-made and natural environments, is especially successful and relevant for a city in the midst of an extreme drought.

A Stephen Shore solo show from 303 Gallery, over at Stage 31, offers views of the seemingly exotic Middle East, which feel almost Midwestern, affectionately cast in warm light and replete with signature Shore trappings like immobile cars amid evocative landscapes.

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Karin Apollonia Müller, Citylights VII (2013).
©Karin Apollonia Müller (& Suomi NPP).

At Diane Rosenstein Fine Art at Stage 27, I also enjoyed Karin Apollonia Müller's Citylights I and Citylights VII. Her dizzyingly beautiful, manipulated photographs of bold blue punctuated by bright city lights resemble starlight; interestingly, they are satellite scans of the North and South poles.

The New York Backlot portion of the fair is also much expanded from last year. Newcomers such as  the Apartment from Vancouver make a splash with the colorful contemporary work of Garry Neill Kennedy and Janice Guy, whose evocative self-portraits from the 1970s are at once unnerving and captivating. Also on the Backlot, Riflemaker of London is showing Penelope Slinger's surrealist silver gelatin collages, which make a lasting impression.

With a lineup of stellar presentations such as these, Paris Photo LA 2014 is off to a stylish start, and has carved out a very necessary niche in the art fair circuit.

Paris Photo Los Angeles continues at Paramount Pictures Studios through Sunday, April 27.