Critics’ Picks

Srijon Chowdhury, Red Morning Glory, Red Knife, 2019, oil on linen, 24 x 18".

Srijon Chowdhury, Red Morning Glory, Red Knife, 2019, oil on linen, 24 x 18".

Los Angeles

Srijon Chowdhury

Anat Ebgi | Culver City
2660 S La Cienega Blvd.
November 2–December 14, 2019

Life and death spiral around each other in “A Divine Dance," Srijon Chowdhury’s first exhibition at Anat Ebgi. Two sober, modestly scaled paintings represent life with particular frankness: Birth (all works 2019) documents Chowdhury’s child emerging from his girlfriend’s straining body, while in the dark and tender 3am, close inspection reveals a hand holding a bottle to an infant’s mouth. Similar subjects are given a different treatment elsewhere, as in A Divine Dance, which towers more than eleven feet high. Its physical edges are doubled by two hands whose elongated fingers meet at the top to suggest a fleshy portal, within which Chowdhury’s pregnant girlfriend carries a Christ-like baby through flames, demons, and flowers, all depicted in swirls of crimson. The image veers into melodrama, a tone the young artist approaches but does not enter in his best work.

Death gets its due in several paintings, including Red Morning Glory, Red Knife, in which the green of a thorny vine balances the titular reds. A left hand cradles a morning glory—a flower that blooms and withers the same day—while the right hand holds a sanguineous blade to the flower’s stem. Pale Rider is sixteen feet wide, full of beauty and free of bombast: An alabaster woman straddling a white horse holds a scythe as the animal gallops through a riotous profusion of flowers. All this is seen through a layer of text from William Blake’s poem “A Divine Image,” published in the late 1700s. Rendered as a thin metal lattice, the words run from the left edge of the canvas all the way to the right. Chowdhury’s exhibition as a whole is not pitch-perfect, but this painting is.