Los Angeles

Ariel Parkinson, Harry Lieberman

Ankrum Gallery

Although both paint within the broad classification of Romanticism, there is little ground on which the works of Ariel Parkinson and Harry Lieberman may be compared. For the eighty-five year old Lieberman, painting is the renewal of his own spiritual relations to the traditions of the Chassidic Jews of his Polish homeland and his youth. His pictorial tales involve us in the teachings of the rabbis as well as in the stories of the Old Testament. Some are as familiar as Elijah and the Mantle (II Kings, 2). Many are unfamiliar and need translation. All are told with the directness of an honest man who never thought to pick up the brush until his seventy-seventh year. Were it not for the power of the mystic that permeates his act of painting, Lieberman would be only another primitive painter, at times refreshingly naive. On the other hand, the romantic painting of Ariel Parkinson is so highly sophisticated that it runs the risk of belonging to the dilettantism that marks the popular taste of the San Francisco Bay area, where she lives. Her color is restrained but potentially rich. In some canvases, areas of quickly brushed paint share equally with line in building up the image of fantastic beasts of oriental mythology, but the reference is rather superficially Chinese. The majority of her work, however, deals with the human image where the color is less structurally involved with the figure and at times even sets up competition with the image that emerges, partly drawn and partly scratched through the surface. Sometimes the poetic formula is broken, as in the Venus of Menthon where, intentionally or not, the Standing Figure of Lachaise imposes itself on the viewer with its peculiar masculine femininity. More often, as in Blue Boy, the scale and the concept remains intimately charming.

Constance Perkins