MOCA’s latest exhibit embarks on its journey alluding to the Tower Of Babel, that behemoth of global architecture intended to reach Heaven. But our mortal presumption – that we could ever reach that pinnacle of joy – angered God, who caused a grand confusion by introducing a plethora of languages. These different tongues (and the people attached) were then peppered over the face of the earth. 

Hoping not to bring down the wrath of any almighty (including curator Michael Darling), the artists of Painting in Tongues embrace the post-Babel world by rebuking, as much as mortally possible, the notion of the “hand.” Using a potpourri of painterly styles (classical to post-modern), sources (geometrical to African) and materials (oils to DVD projection), these seven artists – Kai Althoff, Gillian Carnegie, Mark Grotjahn, Lucy McKenzie, Rodney McMillian, Ivan Morley, and Anselm Reyle – vary not only between their approach to art, but within their approach.

Anyone who has taken an art history class knows the dreaded “slide-test” where the lecture room is darkened, the screen is unfurled and an image of a certain artist is projected on screen, sans name; the test-taker must then, based on the artist’s oeuvre and certain elements (the “hand”) found throughout their work, ascertain who the artist is (Or, if you were in my Photography 401 class where the teacher was denied tenure, “just write in any damn name, I don’t care anymore.”). One would not want to take the dreaded “slide-test” with one of these seven.

This exhibit should not be confused with the concurrent show of the same name taking place at the Erotic Museum.

MOCA is located at 250 S. Grand Ave., in Los Angeles. Hours: Mon & Fri 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thu 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat & Sun 11 a.m.-6 p.m., closed Tues & Wed. Admission: $8, $5 for students with I.D.; Admission is free on Thursdays from 5-8 p.m. For more information, visit