Los Angeles

Paul Wonner

Felix Landau Gallery

Taken as a group style the figurative painting of the Bay Area has certain consistent trademarks. The figure is impersonal but it is viewed intimately. The spatial framework almost always contains a collision between the illusion of space and the coincidences that flatten space. The lavish use of paint does not elaborate forms or enrich surfaces but seems more to muffle the sense of immediate contact—to “distance” the painting in the sense that Brecht used the term. If color is strongly used it acts as a foil, fuming and fussing at cross purposes with the objects and their space. These paradoxes are tellingly used by Paul Wonner as one of the best working with this post-Action image. He has a sureness in the way he occupies the space of a painting, a disarmingly simple way of using his knowledge of structure. Although his recent work is mostly a continuation of previous work, the departure seems to lie in an interest in larger paintings with more involved concepts. The “Tryptich 7 Views of The Model With Flowers” has the intimate view and the casual figures are given greater psychological implication by the multiplicity of figures and the tenuous compositional thread relating the three canvases. “In A Field ” has a simpler message, being a light filled painting of two figures and a dog carved into a simplified landscape. The tension, established by the position of the three, works powerfully within the flattened space and shows Wonner’s mastery. His ability to use very few elements to create an exciting and full painting is evident throughout the show but a tendency in some to use color and paint like great slabs of Neopolitan ice cream seems to deprive them of their fullest potential.

Douglas McClellan