Los Angeles

Sydney Helfman

Gallery Arles

Ad­miring Gauguin and Picasso. Helfman has been equally as superficial in understanding them as in observing nature. The resultant paintings have faces that divide into halves of pasty pink and bilious chartreuse with the brush strokes going from “abandon” at the center of the patches to a quiet dabble at the edges. Gauguin’s egomania filled his self-portraits with grandiose mys­tery; Helfman’s are self-consciously pretty, their romantic narcissism be­longing to the watch-me-caress-myself school of TV commercials. He aspires to eloquence in depicting the nude but his drawings retreat amateurishly into conventional shapes, repeating cunei­form elbows and yam breasts every­where.

––Rosalind G. Wholden