“Yesterday a child came out to wonder”
- Joni Mitchell, The Circle Game, 1966
Mulholland Drive rambles its way from congested LA to the creatively fertile community that bloomed in Laurel Canyon starting in the mid 60s. The early experimental sound of that era was first played in the now legendary living rooms and local pubs around the canyon. Joni Mitchell had rented a house there and Dylan and a bohemian crowd would drive out to be part of the scene. Laurel Canyon was the place to break free of expectations and create something brilliantly new and Mulholland was how you got there. It’s always been a road for dreamers.
In Carla Tak’s monumental Mullholland series, the large-format works thunder and roll with great bursts of colour and sensory pleasures. The works appear to be visual explosions but there is purpose and clarity amid the chaos. As each piece comes together over months, Tak puzzles out the canvas, relying on subconscious motivations and emotional presence to guide her choices. The work is sculptural as much as painterly as Tak constructs many of the iconographic elements from her extensive collection of saved paint pieces, the remnants of old pots and palettes and drip paintings. In their childlike primitive style and tactile expressiveness, the pieces evoke Basquiat, de Kooning and late career Jean Dubuffet, artists that sought to break free of conventional structures to reveal something more vital in art.
For Tak, the pieces represent a private journey and tell a personal story. While the series title is more metaphoric than representational, Tak has her own long standing associations with LA. As a 15 year old living in Gastown in the late 60s, she met an established American sculptor 20 years her senior with a studio in a graffiti-covered area of Santa Monica. She immediately moved south and stayed in the city for almost 20 years. Tak’s ongoing Mullholland work heralds the intrigue and vitality of that time. As large as a letter on the Hollywood sign, each work is a fascinating journey marked by freedom and emotion and all the wondrous elements that symbolize her spirited history. They tell a story of self-discovery, survival and reinvention on a grand scale
- Barry Dumka