Los Angeles

Joan Brown

Primus-Stuart Galleries

Introducing collage drawings among a group of large heavy laden oils on canvas, Joan Brown once more gives an impressive demonstration of an explosive talent. In all works one or more quizzical feminine figures stand as stark repose in various points of frontality in nude bravado, clothed by swathes of enormous strokes of brilliant naples, cadmium red, or ultramarine blue, tinted and moulded by more or less graded patterns, offering a counterpoint to further rolling hills of oil that plummet about indicating some form, or layer of assumed content among spray, rocks and heavy water swells. “Girl Standing” is one of the better oils simply as direct statement. Confronting us here a stark cerulean blue shoulder is overcome by an enormous stroke of palette running from clavicle to middle right arm in one naples yellow sweep. Nipples are perched on softly moulded breasts, rounded by color layers. Occasionally small hair-like drips will be found among the lower areas. Creases in arms by knife swift and straight balance a bosom draped in blood red down the left arm to the thumb. The whole right side of the background hangs heavily brushed brownly, and as points the original washed color over bare canvas hints at black outlines that originally forecast the pigmented seeding. Color lifts over three sides of the silver painted frame strip, viridian points peek through a sea of oil paint, and a bright red nose stands before the face. In “Bathing Girls” three figures, two hugging the side edges of the enormous plain of canvas, frolic on rocky configuration, all identical in color areas, cadmium oranges, vermillions and red scarlets against the slim ochres and naples, reacting against the ultra-marine waves, or the tinseled spray, the layer of colors are angled by directed swathes of a large brush at times proceeding more than an inch from canvas base. The composition is contained, has a definite light and dark pattern, and although the firebrand strokes violate the forms, the violence is controlled. One can reflect on the un-named black and white collage gouache drawings and see the birth of some configurations for canvas, pieces of paper, torn, with white and black gouache and tints of a light naples paper. All fairly controlled act as preliminary witness for the larger oil works as water drips, smudges, gritty flecks and scrapes, tack holes and rough-edged tears vie over a carefully built feminine form that simulates action and reaction in material and image. The overall effect of the works is a great similarity in approach, subject, content, color, heaviness of palette, and composition, where mute startled forms stare from suits of pigment. One might hope the scope of subject, palette, and form might enter once more, as in last year’s exhibit, a sustained and careful analysis of each individual work that would serve this lavish talent with a vigor prevailing over accident, forced bravado, and size.

S. C. Schoneberg