Return to C&R, part 1

Matthew Thomas, "Aureole",
encaustic/copper/gold leaf, 10 x 8", 1995.


Robert Kingston, "Vasquez Rocks",
oil on wood, 48 x 72", 1996.

Robert Kingston 's current non-objective paintings pursue heady, ruminative experimentation that bespeaks his wholehearted embrace of the discourse in his adopted New York. What Kingston has given up in his once-quirky, eye-engaging abstraction he has replaced with a much deeper investigation of presence and optical modulation. The new renditions of saturated, thickly painted lines and fields prove elusive, even self-effacing, refusing to charm the eye but tickling cognition with their challenge: Is seeing these paintings knowing them? Is knowing these paintings seeing them?

Conversely, Matthew Thomas, still living here, exhibits some of the most drop-dead gorgeous little paintings he or anyone else has produced in a long time. Formulated with wax, gold leaf, and some deep, delicious pigments, Thomas' iconic littled pan els illumine intricate linear devices, most variants on the circle. Thomas relies on a philosophy rooted in revelation through transformation--while Kingston espouses a philosophy rooted in transformation through revelation. And that's why the pairing of these two bodies of work is not simply complementary, but perfectly counterbalanced, the rightness of their dialectic itself aesthetically gratifying (Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica).

Mark Klett, "Night", photograph

Mark Klett's exhibition entitled Night presents selections of this photographer's works from the 1980's and 1990's. These subtle and beautifully printed black and white photographs are made from polaroid negatives and document Klett's travels through the desert landscape. Klett photographs both night skies and empty vistas with the same patience and attention to detail. His photographs are always both visually seductive and environmentally motivated (Paul Kopeikin Gallery, West Hollywood).

Peter Lindbergh, "Mohave Desert", 1990. Photo © Peter Lindbergh, courtesy Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles.

Peter Lindbergh is a fashion photographer based in Paris whose award-winning images have been included in both national and international fashion magazines. Included in this exhibition are numerous black and white photographs in varying sizes that reflect the scope of Lindbergh's vision. Not only are there the expected "snazzy" photographs of beautiful women, but also more sombre images of the architecture that often serves as the background to Lindbergh's photographs. Because the photographs are printed large, their impact is increased. They become more than just a fashion statement (Fahey/Klein Gallery, West Hollywood).

The seven images that make up the Skies--Richard Misrach's present series, part of his ongoing Desert Cantos body of work--are colorful abstractions. These photographs are more reminiscent of colorfield paintings than the traditional image of the sky. Large fields of uninterrupted color shift from dark hues to light, capturing either a sunset or sunrise in the desert. These unique images are hauntingly sublime, as they contain everything and nothing, both the presence and the absence of life (Jan Kesner, West Hollywood).

Jochen Stucke, Untitled drawing

Borrowing freely from historical and contemporary reference points, German printmaker Jochen Stucke breathes life into both. It is the lively line and powerful contrasts of light and tone that give this work a strong expressive charge. Nervously energetic contours, vigorous hatchwork and brushy washes are organized into theatrical dramas that attempt to translate historically classic compositions into psychological terms familiar to contemporary sensibilities. The question is whether this leads to a deepened insight of ourselves, or merely updates a historical nostalgia with a veneer of realism (Woodbury University Art Gallery, Burbank).

Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum looks to the past for inspiration, while video sculptor Tony Ourseler looks to the future. Both offer relentlessly intense views into the human psyche. Oursler's multi-media talking-heads (or parts of them) are visually disturbing. The accompanying dialogue ranges from humorous to troublesome to insulting. Nerdrum, borrowing Old Master painting technique and style, places his figures in barren landscapes to create a modern myth about man and his environment. His female figures--quintessential symbols of mother earth--offer breasts full of milk. Men, on the other hand, often armed and appearing alienated, represent the aggressive instinct (Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Downtown, San Diego).

Entitled Still Life, Judie Bamber's beautiful watercolors are skillfully handled images painted from photographs that represent a 'still' from 'life.' There is a striking resemblance between the man in the paintings and the artist herself. As it turns out, the subject of these paintings is the artist's father. Yet, the works are much more about capturing a memory than portraying reality. Seen together the works create an ambiguous narrative that leaves viewers searching for clues as to the meaning behind these intriguing works (Richard Telles Fine Art, West Hollywood).

Walking into Rudolph Stingel's installation, one is overwhelmed by the transformation of the space. The doors and windows have been covered with Mylar to block all the natural light. The front gallery is empty except for a vibrant blue and orange striped, hand-dyed and hand-stitched wall to wall carpet. Dividing the two rooms, extending from floor to ceiling with just enough room to pass by one one side, is a Styrofoam barrier, untouched on one side and painted wall-white on the other. The foam barrier functions as a screen between the colorful front gallery and the more traditional space where a selection of Stingels' paintings are installed. The paintings are monochromatic abstractions made by applying thick oil paint to the canvas through a gauze-like fabric. When the gauze is lifted its impression creates an unevenly textured but quite beautiful surface--and a finished painting (Margo Leavin Gallery, West Hollywood).