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Los Angeles dealer David Kordansky opened his gallery’s new location in the heart of Chelsea on 6 May, adding momentum to the bi-coastal gallery expansion race. After smaller LA galleries like François Ghebaly and Harkawik opened New York showrooms, and as Pace and David Zwirner—global galleries headquartered in Chelsea—are adding Southern California outposts, Kordansky opened his space with the first New York solo show by arguably his gallery’s fastest-rising star, Lauren Halsey.
“Lauren’s limited exposure in New York is precisely why we had to open our Chelsea space with her brilliant, boundless, kaleidoscopic vision,” Kordansky says. The exhibition’s centrepiece, a diorama-like evocation of Halsey’s South Central Los Angeles neighbourhood full of found objects, gold and neon gradients—and including a miniature of the community centre she founded, Summaeverythang—seemed especially bright on the dreary opening day. For the vernissage the “line extended down the street—in the rain!—to see the show”, Kordansky says, evidencing an Angelano’s tell-tale aversion to precipitation.
The show offers New Yorkers a thorough crash course in Halsey’s practice, from the miniature South Central streetscape and a grotto-like wall sculpture that includes a functioning fountain to abstract “paintings” of synthetic hair and monochromatic bas relief gypsum sculptures like those in her Mohn Award-winning 2018 installation at the Hammer Museum. It should provide plenty to tide viewers over until her commission for the Metropolitan Museum’s rooftop is unveiled (originally scheduled for summer 2022, it has been pushed back one year).
For Kordansky, the show is also an introduction of sorts to a gallery programme rooted in Southern California movements and institutions. Halsey, he says, “continues a West Coast through line, from Mike Kelley to CalArts to Betye Saar; it’s a history that needs to be seen in New York more.”
But the new outpost “isn’t a satellite”, he says, “it’s a leading edge of our thinking”. He adds, “We have less physical space in New York, but we are imbuing it with the same openness, risk, possibility, and idiosyncratic freedom that we approach every presentation in Los Angeles.” In other words, bringing the same sense of space many of his Chelsea neighours are expanding to Los Angeles to find.