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“This was a sex club called The Zone. So a lot of good vibes in here,” says Lisson Gallery CEO Alex Logsdail, as he gives a tour of Lisson’s newly opened space in Los Angeles’ ever-growing Sycamore District, the globe-spanning art business’ first outpost on the West Coast.
Lisson found the location after The Zone, which catered to gay and bisexual men in L.A., closed in 2020. Its transformation into a high-gloss art gallery fits into the larger conversion of the neighborhood where it’s located, which WWD has called “L.A.’s newest luxury retail destination” and the L.A. Times has called “L.A.’s coolest new neighborhood.” The area’s one-time warehouses and industrial shops have in the last few years been renovated to become buzzy retail shops, restaurants and art galleries, including Jeffrey Deitch, Gaga & Reena Spaulings and Carpenters Workshop.
“It’s a great area,” says Logsdail, who stresses that what sealed the deal when it came to choosing the location were the particulars of the two-story building itself. “It was just a great raw space and it just had a lot of immediate potential I could see. It just naturally had really excellent ceiling height. The ceilings were actually tall enough that we had to lower them.” In their renovation of the space, design-architecture firm Ashe Leandro (who have created homes for the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Seth Meyers) not only lowered the ceiling but also installed deep skylights throughout the 4,455-square-foot building, located at 1037 N. Sycamore Avenue. “The skylights create these really deep light wells, which give us really flat, even natural light into the space. The light in L.A. is so fabulous that making use of that was really important.”
Lisson Gallery’s inaugural L.A. exhibition, Carmen Herrera, The 1970s: Part 2, spotlights a seven-piece series of bold two-color paintings. “This is Carmen’s first show on the West Coast,” says Logsdail of the Cuba-born American artist who worked largely out of the limelight for decades before winning acclaim late in life for her exacting abstract works. She had her first major museum solo exhibition at the Whitney in 2016, the year she turned 101, and was the subject of the 2015 documentary The 100 Years Show. Herrera died last year at age 106 in New York City.
Logsdail describes the suite of works — on view through June 10 — as “one of a handful of discrete series within her practice.” Each painting is named for a day of the week. “The whole show is a full week. It starts with Monday, which is blue. [It’s titled] Blue Monday and each painting has its own sort of personality,” Logsdail says, noting that Lisson borrowed some of the works from museums and private collections in order to bring together the entire series in one place. “These have only ever been shown together in museums,” he continues. Also on view is a larger sculptural Estructura piece by Herrera, installed in the gallery’s front courtyard.
Lisson’s entrance into the Los Angeles market is part of the latest wave of international and New York galleries opening spaces in the City of Angels, with Sean Kelly, Pace and Marian Goodman among the newer entrants. In February, mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth opened its second L.A. outpost in West Hollywood. Later this year, David Zwirner plans to open its first L.A. gallery, encompassing 10,000 square feet in two adjacent buildings on Western Avenue in the Melrose Hill area, which is being developed as an art hub.
Lisson’s Los Angeles outpost is its seventh gallery space around the world; it also has locations in New York, Shanghai, Beijing and London, where Logsdail’s father, Nicholas, opened the original Lisson Gallery in 1967 in the city’s Lisson Grove area. “Having spaces in different cities allows us to do things that are really tailored to the needs of each artist. It’s nice to be able to do that,” says Logsdail, whose roster of more than 60 artists includes Anish Kapoor, Marina Abramović, Ai Weiwei, Lee Ufan, Ryan Gander, Tony Oursler, Jack Pierson, Garrett Bradley, Lucy Raven and Lawrence Weiner.
Logsdail further stresses that continuing to grow the number of gallery spaces around the world is a way of serving its artists: “It’s similar to when we opened in New York [in 2016] or when we opened in China. We had so many artists who didn’t have galleries in those places and they want to do shows there, and artists want other artists to see their shows.”
For the second show in L.A., Lisson will present works by Mexico City-based artist Pedro Reyes (“His first show in L.A.,” says Logsdail), followed by exhibits by artists Sean Scully and Hugh Hayden.
He continues, “Something we’re doing that’s really special in L.A. is that all of the artists we’re showing in the first year have either never shown in L.A. or haven’t shown in L.A. in decades and that’s really fun and it’s nice to be able to bring something new to the city.”
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