Critics’ Picks

Farah Atassi, The Swimmer, 2017, oil and enamel on canvas, 79 x 63".

Farah Atassi, The Swimmer, 2017, oil and enamel on canvas, 79 x 63".

Los Angeles

Farah Atassi

François Ghebaly
2245 E Washington Blvd.
July 7–August 12, 2017

Digesting a history of modernist art and design—high points include Fernand Léger’s early twentieth-century paintings and Oskar Schlemmer’s truly bonkers Triadic Ballet, 1922—Farah Atassi attempts to continue that era’s experimental ethos with the trappings of her contemporary world. In Blue Guitar (all works 2017), bendy yoga practitioners curlicue around the musical instrument, its sound hole replaced by the narrow slots of an electrical outlet. Nearby, a clock (Still Life with Clock 2) marks the time—a constant companion in this exhibition of eight paintings.

These works are in accord; each canvas features a brightly patterned ground whose converging edges intimate angular rooms in which people and objects are posed. The calm of Woman in Rocking Chair, where the subject’s legs are casually crossed at the ankle, is countered by The Swimmer, in which a striped bathing suit is punctuated, literally, by a large exclamation point. The grid is consistently conjured and effaced, amended and enclosing. Pat art-historical genres—the still life and the portrait—are given exuberant opportunities to stretch and extend their effects. Yet in almost every one of the works on view here, the paint is inconsistently applied and discolorations are frequent—appearing like touch-ups gone terribly awry. These are too regular to be merely mistakes, and so viewers who find themselves seduced by the snap of Atassi’s paintings must also account for the artist’s hand.