Los Angeles

Lynn Foulkes

Pasadena Art Museum

Lynn Foulkes is an image conjurer of the first magnitude and any tribe in need of strong magic would do well to sign him up immediately. His ability to generate an image of gripping and macabre power in terms of painting alone would seem to make the more “assembled” aspects of Dada unnecessary. Certainly non-painting devices are important here, but when objects project beyond the point of tension and the flat surface breaks, the works become “combines,” and lose some of their bite. Foulkes doesn’t need to attach possums or smashed heads to gain presence for his statements: they do their work with out the obvious gimmicks. This is due to an uncanny ability he has for getting maximum mileage out of the simplest appearing rub of black or white, evoking a sense of subject that is engrossing and has little need for Grand Guignol or Krazy Kat captions to kick the viewer awake. The small untitled gray paintings, for instance, imply many levels of image with the briefest notation.

The impact of the show is strangely nostalgic. The memory book aspect (people pressed between the pages of a book) is strong and is reinforced by a color vocabulary of largely asphaltum, black, and yellowed white. It is hard to predict where Foulkes will evolve from this point. This is a hard act to follow, but the works have such a reservoir of imagination and invisible draftsmanship that wherever he might go, he has the equipment he needs.

Doug McClellan