Los Angeles

Walter Mix

Comara Gallery

A city is a city, is a city, seems to be the conclusion of the painter, who, having traveled widely nevertheless secretly carries the same image with him. Chicago-Spain and Chicago-Italy and Chicago-Chicago are hurdles of light pin-pointed on the earth’s crust, beaming neon reassurances through the darkness to the homeless waif inside each of us. There is nothing fearsome looming in these jeweled architectural aggregates. The artist evokes some of the wonder and tameness felt in fairy tales when the prince approaches the sleeping kingdom.

Mix is not primarily a colorist; his paintings are gatherings of reds, ochres and umbers for the purpose of intensity and value contrast rather than any building of form through color. Because of this some of his black and white studies attain great brilliance since he knows so well how to compose in contrasts. “City Fragment” in the collection of Mr. Warren Waltz, is a handsome close-up of tenemental buildings whose black and grey structure convincingly changes at the left of the picture into a skeleton of itself. In his paintings the minimization of color possibilities reminds us of the curious visual unity a city assumes while basking in the soot from its industries or under the fall-out of one of nature’s yellow dusks. “Spanish Landscape II,” a sleeping mass of rectangular forms hypnotized by Naples yellow, makes an arid contrast to the more successful drama of “Trastevere” where a vermillion sky flames over the shadowy alizarin housing below.

Mix runs the danger of tending towards a compositional formula with his city agglomerate too central to either the vertical or horizontal axis of the picture. The paintings grow weaker as we move to the side of his pictorial jewel. Perhaps if Mix was more concerned with the negative space of the canvas, his Chicagos-of-the-world would stir with the life that moves within them.

Rosalind G. Wholden