Critics’ Picks

Saul Fletcher, Untitled #89 (Kristen), 1998, C-print, 3 1/2 x 3 1/2".

Los Angeles

Saul Fletcher

GRICE BENCH
915 Mateo Street Suite 210
March 26 - May 14

If you only encounter a Saul Fletcher exhibition every few years, as I have, you can miss how his art evolves. It is easier to recall his photographs’ consistencies, such as the small size of the prints or the wan atmosphere created by their pale lighting and muted colors. His first solo exhibition in Los Angeles samples two decades of photographs; in doing so, it reveals the variety Fletcher achieves within such aesthetic constraints. During the late 1990s, the artist drifted through various rooms, shooting from oblique angles to create semiabstract compositions—of his grandmother’s bathtub, a fly on a ceiling fixture, or a broken mirror. One portrait made then, Untitled #89 (Kristen), 1998, features a disconsolate-looking woman with a face painted in black and white, while a more recent landscape, Untitled #187, 2007, reminds viewers that the artist does not only work in tight quarters.

Since the early 2000s, however, Fletcher has often done just that, using his studio wall as the stage for minor dramas. He employs slashes of paint, branches and leaves, skulls, clothes, books, and other objects to craft his compositions. These assemblages are sometimes frenzied, sometimes hauntingly spare. Simple yet evocative forms recur: a cross, a scarecrow, the American flag. Through them, Fletcher’s austere and circumscribed vision, the product of a singular imagination burrowing into itself, taps into reserves of shared cultural memory. These pictures reflect deep-seated and indistinct emotions of a kind we all possess but struggle to grasp.