Review: Ann Veronica Janssens' visual puzzles challenge and engage

So simple as to seem artless, Ann Veronica Janssens’ works at 1301PE are surprisingly engaging. Known for installations that play with light and perception — à la James Turrell — the Belgian artist also creates mysterious objects that suggest more open-ended outcomes than Turrell’s tightly controlled environments.

Viewers are greeted by a single steel I-beam lying diagonally on the floor. The uppermost side of the beam has been polished to a reflective, chrome-like finish, turning a heavy, stolid object into a slash of reflected light. Upstairs, in a similar move, Janssens has coated a piece of corrugated aluminum with gold leaf. Suspended at an angle high on the wall, it’s both shelter and light wave, highlighting the play of shadows on its undulating surface.

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“Azurite Pantone” recalls the disorienting optics of Larry Bell’s translucent cubes. A glass box that looks as if it is half full of liquid, the watery surface is actually a solid blue sheet, presumably in the Pantone color of the title. The work is an elusive visual puzzle, complicated by intricate, overlapping ambient reflections captured from all sides.

Although these works never completely dissolve into light effects, they remind us that perception is simply the way light bounces off a surface. Change the surface and you might change everything. 

1301PE, 6150 Wilshire Blvd., (323) 938-5822, through Jan. 18. Closed Sundays and Mondays.


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