Reprinted from the Los Angeles Times, October 15, 2016
"A secular chapel might seem an impossible contradiction in terms — an unsustainable union of worldliness and divinity. The mystery of mortality doesn’t merge easily with the empirical here-and-now.
Yet that is what is invoked by a large, lovely new installation by Polly Apfelbaum. The words “secular chapel” aren’t used in didactic material around the show, “Face (Geometry) (Naked) Eyes,” which fills the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design. The closest it comes is to identify the work’s inspiration: a famously eclectic floor mosaic in a “tree of life” pattern inside a 12th century church in Otranto, Italy.
That huge mosaic piles up dozens of seemingly contradictory symbols from Christian legend, Greek myth, Scandinavian folklore, Persian fable and more. Apfelbaum, who doesn’t show often in Los Angeles — her most recent solo exhibition here was at Hollywood’s Michael Benevento Gallery five years ago — does something similar, albeit in abstract form, with forms she’s employed for years.
Carpets and glazed ceramic plaques, both emphasizing color, as well as wooden wall reliefs are fashioned with a multicultural symbolism that favors abstraction. One could even say that colorful abstraction is her kachina — her ancestral spirit guide."
Read the full review...