San Diego

San Diego

Various Venues

Moods and modes set the tune of June shows here. A major exhibition at the Fine Arts Gallery featured bronzes and drawings by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle (1861–1929) who carved a niche for himself between Rodin’s strain and Maullol’s simplicity, between the portrait and the monumental symbol. One of many pairs of contrasts in his work: Beethoven masks, distorted like Rodin’s Balzac, and Penelope, classic as a caryatid of the Erechtheum. His bronzes wavered between finger-marked modeling and smooth finish; between suggestions of movement “that does not complete itself within the thing” and static condition; between light that flairs on the ridges and cuts of broken surfaces and light that appears bound to the form. The modernity of Bourdelle’s romantic “in between” stimulated sculptors from Mestrovic to Epstein. Germaine Richier and Giacometti worked in his studio.

In a one-man show at the Art Center in La Jolla polyvinyl abstractions by Margaret Ash, a young Santa Barbara artist, circled in series around images evoking close-ups of seed pods, shells, flower petals as well as visions of the ocean, sun and tides. There are certain affinities to Georgia O’Keefe in theme, abstract organization, and also in a feminine tidiness. But whereas Georgia O’Keefe deliberately juxtaposes motifs of creation and decay, Miss Ash concentrates on forces of germination, and where the former icily defines, the younger artist tries to relate. Margaret Ash works, not with contrasts, but with folding forms, fusing greys and reds, and with a “listening” to the fluid and textural qualities of her medium.

At Orr’s a display of prints swept piquantly through artistic currents from the great moderns of the past, Goya and Daumier, to contemporary European novelties, following stations from subject matter to “truth to material.” Perhaps of the most actual interests were works of three precious members of the School of Paris: Antoni Clave’s lithography enriched Spanish black and white with textures, Zao Wou-ki’s showed an Orient-flavored play with cryptogram and punctuation marks; Johnny Friedlaender relieved somber, shredded surfaces with prismatic forms and color accents.

A newly launched showplace, the Art Works Gallery, opened with oils and drawings by Richard Allen Morris who often has challenged the local scene both by his Dadaisms and intransigent abstractions. Thematically, his exhibits paid homage to Giotto, Motherwell, Arp, Chagall, etc., and friends, or they played pranks on Freud and movie stars, all this in free transpositions. Flippant decorativeness was seen beside revelations of an intense and almost shy love of the material, stirring against any limits in art.

Armin Kietzmann