Los Angeles

Arnold Belkin

Zora’s Gallery

This is the first U.S. one-man show of the thirty-three year old, Canadian-born ar­tist who has studied and worked in Mexico since 1948. Actively involved as founder of the Mexican figurative move­ment “Nueva Presencia” (a crystalliza­tion of Rodman’s Insiders), Belkin has reflected his didactic, narrative “human condition” orientation in numerous ex­hibitions, theatrical settings, and civic murals (where else could one paint “We Are All Guilty” in a federal peniten­tiary?). This fourth-generation product of Mexican revolutionary painting has literally stripped the provincialism of the fresco triumvirate (Rivera, Orozco, and Siquieros) down to the tendons, bones, and bands of muscle fiber.

“Figures” are enlarged to monumental, muralist scale in his drawn paintings. Redistributed anatomical parts are rigidly outlined and value washes offer bare psychological relief. Most shape inventions and linear elaborations are self-consciously contrived and pat­terned for they usually deny volume.

Belkin’s work now shows a strong note of fantasy in relating man with landscape, stacking bandaged and frac­tured monoliths in a Selzian “new im­ages of the grotesque.” Displaying a shuddering spectacle of man’s obvious mortality as a fascination with flayed pain does not produce the affirmative cathartic effect intended for these pro­testing tragedies. One is more likely to be repulsed, as watching the contorted agony of a helpless, sacrificial beast impaled on the sharp knife of the artist’s own convoluted inhumanity. We all may be guilty, but Belkin is more so.

Fidel A. Danieli