Return to Articles


February 28 - April 6 at the L.A. Louver Gallery, Venice

by Andy Brumer

Los Angeles-based artist Tom Wudl presents a new series of acrylic on canvas paintings based on the comedy team of Laurel and Hardy. Comedy and tragedy represent the larger metaphorical theme of the series, which points back to the characters of comedia del arte, and particularly the figure of the harlequin. Additionally Wudl says that he came to Laurel and Hardy “by way of Samuel Beckett, and specifically my reading of Waiting for Godot.” Certainly Laurel and Hardy’s absurdly childlike, tender and generally futile antics, their alternately pathetic and tender commitment to one another, and the dogged fierceness with which they simply carry on, perfectly embody Beckett’s absurdist vision of life and art.

In Tut Tut. . .;Tsk Tsk. . . Wudl portrays the duo with a pictorial geometry and shading suggestive of Carravaggio. The rotund Hardy, bathed in Apollonian light, holds an appropriately bulbous French horn at his side, while the wily and angular Laurel, playing a slender clarinet, seems to recede into shadow.

Tom Wudl, “Tut Tut. . .; Tsk Tsk. . .,”
a/c, 20 x 26”, 2002.

Tom Wudl, “The Ornithologist,”
a/c, 40 x 30”, 2002

Charles Garabedian, “Odalisque,”
a/c, 28 1/2 x 56 1/8”, 2001.

Charles Garabedian, “White Cross,”
a/c, 96 x 78”, 2001.
An emotive scrim of flowery swirls, hearts, harlequin-like diamond-pane, etc., erupts from Stanley’s instrument in playful, even delirious excess. Wudl, while conceding the collective prototypes of Laurel and Hardy in this piece, also attests to each man’s individuality and spiritual autonomy. This point is borne out, for example, in The Ornithologist, which depicts an ecstatic Stan Laurel, floridly dressed in a ballerina’s tutu, existentially leaping across a sparse, Beckett-like stage.

Charles Garabedian is a World War II veteran who turned to art after working at several other occupations. He has happily gained international recognition at this, his last and longest career. In this show of new acrylic on canvas paintings, the artist continues his surrealistically-based dialogue with literary, religious and mythological sources, as well as with the masters of modern art itself. Garabedian specifically notes the influence of two writers on the work in this show: the Austrian-born Thomas Bernhard, and the Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis. He relates the idiosyncratic quality of his paintings to what he calls Bernhard’s “lunatic meanderings.”

In Odalisque, Garabedian simultaneously pays homage to a host of influential modernist forebears, ranging from Henry Moore, Picasso, and Matisse, back to Edvard Munch and van Gogh. This painting offers a profile of a cubistically rendered female nude that simultaneously suggests the sturdy volume of sculpture and the more fragile flatness of painting. The woman lies on her side gazing at a choppy, turbulent sea rendered in expressive, roughly hewn and virulent brush strokes. The painting seemingly pits the appeal, seduction and personal nature of human sexuality against the powerful and dauntingly impersonal forces of nature. The female figure squeezes a peculiarly out-of-place looking blue checked table cloth between her legs, creating a hilarious tongue in cheek visual pun. As a symbol of the dinner table, the cloth cleverly closes the gap between “nature and nurture.” In a slightly more abstract work, White Cross, Garabedian composes a series of gorgeously colored archetypal shapes and signs--a cross, stones, rectangular bricks, spheres, numbers--into an integrated and vivid painterly field.