Los Angeles

Billy Al Bengston

Ferus Gallery

Top sergeant’s stripes cubed, squared, chopped, mottled in a galaxy of spray gun finish, dubbed, stenciled, divided within and without space, even with oil paint, sun-like silver orbs advertise three angles over three half moons. Yellow kelly squared “Sonny” presents silver top-sergeant stripes edged in a full orbed orange-yellow surface. “Hawaiian Eye” gives us a chrome green square plus insignia over an enormous square on which stained glass effect shows a large myopic bugged fly eye, or a diamond black-blue grid studded with orange centers all on an over-all baby purple ground. One cannot help reflect, “Why the sergeant’s stripes?” Pasted upon, seen against, transfixed, illumined, never exaggerated or deformed, elongated or found in any contextual assemblage, either materially as motif, subjectively as content, organically as pigment, or feeling or intuition, nor even in expressionist terms, here is a mechanic of stylization which had best be realized as sergeants Christmas wrappings, but art? Here a clever, subtly piqued and talented young man has latched on to a gimmick in order to exhibit that gimmick in unlimited edition. Whether viridian and emerald “Lex Tarzan” or “Tarzan” purple and crimson, can this striped sign accompany the absurd, the surreal, the dada or their appendages? With obvious ability of color and adaptability to design, Mr. Bengston’s spray booth technique could evocatively be offered in a more versatile and perhaps meaningful pictorial vision.

S. C. Schoneberg