Los Angeles

Richards Ruben

Ferus Gallery

With these new paintings, Ruben seems to have rediscovered color as an expressive tool. In his latest show at this gallery, the pictures were predominately black with small bands of brilliant color breaking through to give solidity to the dark areas. Now he accomplishes it with color all over. These pictures involve large divisions of subdued but clashing Indian Madras-like tones working within the context of a rather totemic image—the space is generally divided vertically like a chunky, earthy Barnett Newman. The object, though, is quite different. One color area overlaps another with the original area reappearing at various points along the canvas. One picture makes use of vertical string cuts spaced through a green over-painting that allows a red underpainting to show through. The result is a maintenance of the integrity of the real space starting at the canvas and working outward with each layer of color. He still maintains his device of letting the painting work around the edge of the canvas in order to further heighten this “out into the room” quality.

Ruben, who has been a major influence through his teaching on a number of younger Los Angeles artists, saves his pictures from pure academicism by his obvious profound seriousness. Although the pictures have a somewhat derivative look they are not of the sort that are too often found in local galleries—fashionable, getting-with-it painting. Ruben makes no attempt to remain a part of the vanguard; rather, he is involved in a purposeful reworking and reinvention of ideas that he feels are valid.

A group of recent drawings included in the show seem much more successful in attaining interest that goes beyond the technical. In these the space is divided much more freely with small semi-calligraphic shapes floating in a space that is much more ambiguous and more pleasing.

Don Factor