Susan C. Larsen

  • Kim MacConnel

    Why would Kim MacConnel turn his back on a perfectly acceptable strategy for painting, one he earned the right to use as one of the original pattern painters of the ’70s? If he had to do it, why didn’t he exchange one slightly tired formula for a newer, more intellectually respectable one? MacConnel is a bright fellow and he must know why choosing from among carefully considered alternatives is so crucial to the careers of painters in the late ’80s. But no, in a perfectly perverse move, he has elected to return to some old, insoluble and by now virtually antique problems of composition. In his

  • Llyn Foulkes

    The otherwise excellent essay in the catalogue accompanying Llyn Foulkes’ exhibition attempts to place his searing portraits of cultural and political antiheroes under the irregular umbrella of neo-Expressionism. This 51-year-old California veteran needs no such well-meaning camouflage. Foulkes first appeared as a young painter exhibiting at the Ferus Gallery in the late ’50s and early ’60s, his need to go for the jugular setting him apart from the glossy finish-fetish spirit of that time. Foulkes has long been a force to be reckoned with, a widely respected figure uncompromised by a decoration-loving

  • CULTIVATED CANVASES

    FOR ALMOST FOUR DECADES the career of Richard Diebenkorn has followed a steady, ever deepening course whose several significant shifts of emphasis have never seriously disrupted one’s sense of the painter’s sensibility, which, more than style, provides the wellspring for his work. Diebenkorn’s recent paintings continue in the questioning of the rightness and honesty of each pictorial element that the artist has always been committed to. The paintings’ sense of calm, their flashes of bright color on subtly modulated fields bounded by broad, sometimes tentative lines, testify to the deep-rooted

  • Raul Guerrero

    There are no wildly lunging leopards, no tigers burning bright, in Raul Guerrero’s rain forests of the imagination. He gives us tightly drawn, static relics of pre-Columbian Mexico, and dreamy, postcard images of sexual desire, but stands apart from them, as a spectator in his own narrative. Guerrero’s images are stylized and commonplace: the ruined temples, dismembered statuary, deserted city squares, exotic birds, and jungle cats are like an illustrator’s fantasy of ancient Mexico.

    Engaging in a parody of Surrealist juxtaposition, Guerrero manages to drain this rich undergrowth of its potency.

  • Jay Willis

    Jay Willis’ stacked, gently curved vertical sculptures have a cheerful exuberance sustained by every aspect of his work. Bright primaries and pastels on flat surfaces intentionally fragment his tall slender forms into free-floating planes accented by the sharp unpainted aluminum edges of each part. Recalling the precarious, improbable weighting and balancing of David Smith’s “Cubi” series, 1961–65, these tipped and joined elements pull the viewer around their animated configurations.

    Willis’ roots are in the work of Smith and Anthony Caro, and in the pristine painted metal sculpture of Donald

  • Margaret Nielsen

    Margaret Nielsen’s small obsessive panels suggest the stuff that dreams are made of. These 4-by-5-inch, densely painted views of forests, lakes, and campgrounds might have described some idyllic world of carefree leisure. But no, nature has taken a dramatically sinister turn. Four men in a canoe paddle through the waves and flames of a lake caught on fire. A child’s swing is suspended over a swirling pool of water filled with writhing snakes. Two trees fight for footing in an angry vortex, tethered together by a stout rope. A group of campers enjoy the evening glow of a warm fire while a burning

  • Steve Heino

    The formal aspects of Constructivist art have maintained a vitality quite apart from the social programs they were created to promote and serve. With its urban focus and technological, architectonic use of 20th-century materials, the Constructivist attitude has become a metaphor for a style and philosophy of living. We see the formal language of Constructivist art in the work of mid-20th-century American artists, it has been faithfully taught in our universities, and it appears in the work of our youngest artists, who sometimes understand the style thoroughly before they are even aware that its

  • Richard Tuttle

    The self-assured, soft-spoken style of Richard Tuttle has maintained its identity over the past twenty years, depending more on its casually assertive presence than on any commitment to specific materials, scale, or subject matter. The early works made of paper, wire, and cloth were lean and abstract, vulnerable and self-effacing, yet strangely compelling and intense. As Tuttle remarked some years ago, “To make something which looks like itself is . . . the problem, the solution.” In other words, the work must have its own believable life like that of a natural creature, without resembling one.

  • Mimmo Paladino

    A small exhibition of five recent works by Mimmo Paladino proved to be one of the highlights of “II Modo Italiano,” the multivenued 11-artist survey of recent Italian art organized by the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art. Water of the Pond, a large, heavily textured, blond and yellow painting from 1980, reveals something of the reticence and beauty of Paladino’s earlier abstract style; this painting, however, derives from a time when his aspirations to scale had begun to overstress and force the subtle runs of color and areas of low relief that work so well in a more modest format. With

  • Janice Lowry

    Janice Lowry’s massive constructed paintings hold beguiling lures carefully chosen to establish an atmosphere of domestic intimacy, childhood revery, and spontaneity, a mood akin to that of the best American folk art. The jagged, rough-cut fish, small animals, dolls, and wooden ladders that appear again and again in her work might divert and undermine her drawing were it not for the vital sense of scale that puts her brightly colored three-dimensional environments back together again. Large, flattened, translucent human figures occupy these angular rooms, intent on their own activities. In The

  • Marc Pally

    Refinement, exactitude, and maturity may not be the qualities most prized at this moment, but the new work of Marc Pally demonstrates that the hybrid materials and pastel pop-culture colors preferred by his generation may yet serve as the basis for disciplined, carefully considered formal statements. While the essential character of his work has been retained, Pally’s use of raw and veneered wood in constructed paintings, his now careful, now ragged integration of pigment, wood, and graphite, his focus on the processes of change as an image moves from a drawing to a painting to a three-dimensional

  • Robert Ackerman

    A vital and long-lived tradition of reductive abstract painting has existed in Los Angeles since the ’50s, though it has seldom attracted national attention. John McLaughlin is perhaps its most distinguished founding father, and his work has been widely appreciated by young Los Angeles painters. Robert Ackerman’s work is rooted in this tradition of reductive abstraction, but it is much too sensuous, too physical and open to tonal variation and antigeometric curves to be a strict interpretation of the reductivist canon.

    In his second one-man show, Ackerman gives evidence of a maturity and complexity

  • Dan McCleary

    With the knowing, incisive touch of a sensitive dramatist, Dan McCleary recalls and reconstructs the content and emotional tenor of important yet fleeting episodes common to most of us who grew up in middle America. A young painter (he is in his early 30s), he has an intuitive grasp of the tender, indescribable emotions of late adolescence and early adulthood. His paintings speak of the vulnerability involved in parental and romantic attachments, and of the lasting effects of seemingly insignificant social encounters that go unrecorded even as they leave their mark deep in the psyche.

    McCleary

  • Roy De Forest

    A parade of bearded men, shapely nudes, hikers in tall boots, and avid athletic rowers make their way through the drawings of Roy De Forest. The Northern California countryside around the small town of Folsom lends itself to spirited canoeing, hiking, and other cavorting in the dry summer air, and in this environment, the artist’s own, his fantasies seem less fantastic and suggest themselves as interpretations rather than complete inventions. Yet his dreamlike spaces and carefree, spontaneous calligraphy lift the work to a level of allegory recalling an ancient bacchanal or a baroque fête

  • Tom Wudl

    The overtly symbolic yet highly personal paintings of Tom Wudl speak of the artist’s long-standing study and practice of Buddhist meditation. To his credit Wudl does not set his imagery adrift on the vague, cloudy kind of structure often associated with Western devotees of such practices. The best of his work employs a raw, stark, emblematic iconography updating certain terrifying and horrific aspects of visionary Buddhist art. His imagery seems entirely personal, as though it were derived from first-hand observation.

    The image of a nude young woman appears again and again in these paintings,

  • Lari Pittman

    Lari Pittman’s paintings are a deliberate frontal attack on the overbearing sensibility that produced the spiky, pastel, trapezoidal forms so prevalent in postwar American design. He presents moiré-patterned fields of printed papers, lion-headed swags of drapery in high relief, and dime-store chinoiseries—a cornucopia of debased and all-but-forgotten forms still able to haunt, dismay, and amuse. It is too early to tell whether the attack is an assault or an embrace.

    Pittman’s is the boundless imagery of in-stock wallpaper murals, underwater scenes, and wistful evocations of the Italian Riviera.

  • Leonard Koscianski

    Sleek snarling dogs race through the conceptualized landscapes of Leonard Koscianski, turning an airless, tense atmosphere into an arena of unleashed violence. His are images that recurrent nightmares are made of; time is suspended and we live within the terror of the dream, which rushes again and again across our field of vision. Koscianski’s flawless old-master technique, displaying careful glazing and highlighting over a darkened ground, recalls the hypnotic clarity of Renaissance painting. His canvases shine from their depths as light is trapped between layers of pigment, an effect reminiscent

  • Maura Sheehan

    Several years ago, during the genesis of Los Angeles’ studio and gallery district, among the delightful and memorable signs of life downtown were the outdoor painted sites of Maura Sheehan. Her pastel stripes, brightly painted parking lots, and polka-dotted curbs were the fine-tuned grace notes in a growing chorus of optimistic renewal. Locating itself wherever and whenever it pleased, now boldly covering an open expanse of asphalt, then slowly and calmly making its way around an obscure corner between tall buildings, her work helped to make us aware of the beauties and peculiarities of downtown

  • Pierre Picot

    Pierre Picot presented another in his series of one-man group shows with, according to the gallery card, “tons of little paintings, four or five ceramic plates, some real skinny + tall paintings . . . and all sorts of drawings.” Openhanded and utterly profligate with his fund of imagery, Picot has spent it liberally in large schematic renderings, precious, richly worked sketches, and a suite of marvelous and enigmatic thin, vertical paintings.

    In his eagerness to entertain and amaze Picot diverts his audience perhaps too much, and all but obscures his genuine gifts as a sophisticated late-20th-century

  • Michael C. McMillen

    Artifice, violence, and nostalgia are the silent residents of Michael McMillen’s precisely rendered environments. His is the world of back alleys near rundown oceanside apartments, the littered hallways of abandoned buildings, and deserted streets at night. Wandering disoriented among his works one appreciates McMillen’s power to convince us of the reality of his precincts through the sheer detail of his observation and the spellbinding precision of his illusionism. Using lenses and mirrors he can make a three-dimensional miniaturized scene appear life-size, then, reversing himself, fill up