Critics’ Picks

Rachelle Sawatsky, Reincarnation Clash, 2016, oil and flashe on canvas, 51 1/2 x 58".

Los Angeles

Rachelle Sawatsky

China Art Objects Galleries
6337 Church Street
May 21–July 9

Punctuation marks and unnamed orifices, secret alphabets and twinkling stars—are they punching out or windowing in? Streaked with watercolor or screen printer’s ink and glistening with glaze, fifteen ceramic works—shapely paintings or painterly sculptures, as you wish—circle and constellate in the gallery. Slashed and splattered with almost diaphanous color, these works soften the hard white walls and set the scenic sky for figurative paintings hanging among them. The mess and surreal poetry of corporeality has been Rachelle Sawatsky’s subject for a spell now, but rarely have her bodies transmogrified from the polychrome viscera of abstraction into actual figures, no matter how abstract and otherworldly these creatures may actually be.

A couple of blushing lions prance across a lavender field, backlit by a sunset like a cigar burn in a fleshy horizon, for Romance (all works 2016). A crashed plane, or one of its survivors, dreams of cats and hybrid cat people in Reincarnation Clash, and one wonders if these are dreams of creatures to come or just phantasms of tragedy coming off like smoke from flames. The visible insides of a roseate jungle cat swims with colored shapes while the creature wades into a gridded sea in Interior, all framed by translucent trees disappearing into shifting shades. A pamphlet poem accompanies the exhibition, giving hints at the psychic terrain of these paintings, and the spirited jangle and silk of their color: “Animal body reincarnation clash. / The animal lover’s guide to tragedy. / The emotional person’s guide to plot. / I believe it, / the story / as a story.”