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