A native Angeleno, Evan Lintermans constructs a series of slick panels in Generica, a show named for a Sanford Kwinter and Daniela Fabricius essay in Mutations (2000). Lintermans has created six works in oil, latex, and enamel on panel, titled with cutesy names that suggest forms, "Puzzle" (2002), or locations, "Burbank" (2001). The shapes are cut to follow the building contours. The structures he chose are American architectural everymans. These everybuildings are slick, uprooted, and seemingly more the progeny of Auto-cad than Alberti. Lintermans explains, "I’m interested in using local imagery that is specific to my visual experience, as opposed to appropriated images or references from popular culture."
Throughout the twentieth century, New York and Los Angeles have been competing aspects of the American dream with drastically different ways of life. Now in 2002, L.A.’s collapsible universe that is susceptible to earthquakes, endless suburbs, and overnight movie stars, the city still plays the American other to New York’s savvy, heady, and at times seedy intellectualism. The ultimate guru of L.A.-cool, Mike Davis, wrote about an L.A. consciousness in City of Quartz: "Compared to other great cities, Los Angeles may be planned or designed in a very fragmentary sense (primarily at the level of its infrastructure) but it is infinitely envisioned." Lintermans’s works are as focused on the buildings’ surfaces as a Buddhist monk: "I think it’s fair to say that the buildings I’ve chosen are mundane or generic, yet when transformed through a different media the experience becomes reflective. I find the experience of making art to be introspective and deconstructive, perhaps that’s why I concentrate on self-referential subject matter." In the same essay from which the artist culled the term ‘generica’, the American city is described as "today’s electronic agora." Lintermans’s paintings are meditations on those products of commercialized public spaces. The enameled crisp-cornered panels feel plugged into the wall with the veneer of artistry obvious on sides that include dripped paint on unfinished wood, like a painting equivalent to the back of a movie set. "I think L.A. as a whole lacks any real cohesiveness, but I think the weather, which never changes, the landscape, vast and hazy, and the Hollywood syndrome, or simulation, definitely lends itself to feelings of surreality. You kind of get the feeling that it’s all one big movie set," he says.
Lintermans creates his everybuilding structures by eliminating detail and concentrating on flat light on clean volumes. In "Clouds" (2001), the glass walls reflect the sky, like an inside joke with Brunelleschi who omitted the sky and used in its place a metallic surface in his first Florentine perspectival experiments. Lintermans implodes the sky inwards like a sun-drenched mirage—it’s L.A. after all. "Gold" (2001) is a simple work that succeeds more than the others at being crisp, clean and almost mechanical in its creation. "Burbank,", on the other hand, is an obnoxious take on a particular type of über-L.A. building with loud colors and an ancestry that is part hotel and part condo, all with the warmth of a prison. Lintermans confronts all the L.A. stereotypes at once, all the surfaces, and paints the buildings like collapsible tents in the modern oasis that is L.A. He has had a catharsis it seems; a new artist emerges far away from the earlier "City Club" (2000) painting that hang at one side of the gallery. In Generica, Lintermans’s L.A.-frenzy would’ve been run of the mill if it wasn’t obvious he secretly loves the city he’s iconicizing.
Hrag Vartanian is a writer, critic, and designer. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.