San Francisco

James Strombotne

Gump’s Gallery

The paintings of this show are quite wild and entertaining, if not what you could call first rate in visual interest. The southern California artist’s bronzes are another story—and one of more quality. Here the stark, clever and macabre give way to something simple and strong. Strombotne catches his figures in tensed, body-glorifying positions, ready to spring or fight their way out of a motionless state. The paintings stress the satirical and the horrific: they are not so much aesthetically satisfying as conversation pieces. I certainly wouldn’t want to condemn pictures like Search for Unamericans, with its gap-teethed, hee-hawing, striped pajama-ed judges. One of the jobs of the artistic community is to say things like this. At the same time I can see Strombotne losing himself on a joyride of rather cryptic painting filled with self-conscious posturing.

Arthur Bloomfield