Los Angeles

“Eight Figurative Painters from Los Angeles: Fine Arts Patrons of New­port Harbor”

Pavilion Gallery, Balboa

For many years the Newport Beach area has been a place known to boating enthusiasts and beachlovers. The only art event of any importance was the annual Newport Harbor High School Art Show, an all-southern California juried event, which has become increas­ingly interesting in scope over its past 18 years of existence. Now there is a permanent gallery in a most unusual location. The second floor of the Pavil­ion, located in the center of the Newport peninsula, used to be a ballroom in the 1920’s and 1930’s. After years of lying fallow, art patron A. Ducommon turned it over to the Fine Arts Patrons. The lovely view of the bay will always present fierce competition to the works of art displayed.

For their opening show, the gallery committee arranged a group show of eight California painters, loosely con­nected under the theme of “The Image Retained.” Paul Wonner and William Brown represent the San Francisco Bay Area school. Wonner is more at ease in the medium of oil than any of the paint­ers shown. His colors are joyous and glowing; The Chair on the Green Lawn vibrates with light. Brown owes a debt to Richard Diebenkorn; his small, anony­mous figures and simple compositions are done in brilliant colors and add a cheery note to an otherwise serious show. Frederick Wight is currently work­ing on a series of paintings of the moon, the universe and creation. His Morning and Evening of the First Day is taken from this latest group of works. With his impressionistic technique, thickly laid on paint, he creates a moving and thought-provoking picture. In contrast to Wight, Robert Hansen uses a highly glossy paint, evenly laid on. The forms are stark and simple, the design entirely two dimensional. Since his sabbatical leave to India, Hansen’s figures bear a great resemblance to Indonesian pup­pets, as do his color preferences and a certain woodenness in shapes and gestures. James Jarvaise has changed from non-representational paintings to clear, bold, simplified human forms, retaining his wide, clear color areas with an absence of shading, but a good sense of depth. He states in the catalogue “my concern is with the human form and the still life, to which a painter always re­turns.” Jack Zajac has done more paint­ing than sculpture lately. In Rome he seems to have taken a long, hard look at Michelangelo. The four scenes of the inferno bear witness to this. He uses a brown tonality, warm shades, and large areas of relative emptiness to convey the sadness of man’s fate, quite as he did with his pregnant goats. This fate is more a statement of fact than a great tragedy. In contrast to Zajac, Howard Warshaw’s vision of life is more tragic and pessimistic. His animals in Animal Loading, Feedlock and The Owl, are agonized figures. In the tradition of Picasso and LeBrun he is a fine drafts­man. His strong compositions are built up through his sure, incisive lines. He also handles his colors well; his humor is sarcastic––to wit, the picture Conference. Gordon Nunes seems the weakest of the painters represented. His muted colors, pinks, blues and grays are worked through black lines to depict fig­ures and objects very faintly reminiscent of Dufy. The show was put together to demonstrate a trend in the contempo­rary art scene and to this end it suc­ceeds very well.

Irma E. Desenberg