San Francisco

Patrick Tidd, Boyd Allen, Adelie Landis, and Bruce Breckenridge

Berkeley Gallery

Jazzy colors do not a jazzy painting make. When Tidd ties these colors to a designer’s version of abstract expressionism, they vibrate annoyingly and damage the compositional unity he is so painfully working for. The contents of his composition are arrows, crosses, post-Gorky phalli and other currently fashionable tokens from pop art. Tidd takes a cross for background and packs other signs into its center without re­straint or selectivity. Perhaps he hopes that through a craft ability to coordi­nate various parts (with a low informa­tion value of their own) he is saying something about the vulgarity of the commercial milieu. He isn’t. The vul­garity is in the painting, not the message.

Boyd Allen’s imagery and his choice of red account for the coincidental similarity of his work to Tidd’s, but that is all they have in common. Allen’s forms are derivations from nature rather than refugees from the magazine world. Unlike Tidd, Allen is seriously taking an attitude toward something––the idea of landscape as convulsion. As if this were not enough, he is also experiment­ing with the meaning of edge and with restating the picture plane inside the frame. He is taking on too much for his technique which is trying to detach itself from abstract expressionism. Al­len’s paintings are disturbingly disor­ganized at the conceptual level and slip­shod in their pictorial execution, with parts flying off all over the place. His statement is germinating, but there is still some doubt as to exactly what it is.

Miss Landis’ small oils are of figures and landscapes. There is nothing un­usual about her color range or formal structure (the canvas is primarily di­vided vertically and then subdivided into four squares). The brushstroke and modeling derive from David Park and consist mainly of loose strips of color. Yet Miss Landis is a fine, sensitive painter. She draws well. She has the ability to establish a feeling of inti­macy through a delicacy in combining colors. She builds a sense of privacy by eliminating all that is not immedi­ately necessary to her rendering of the subject. She manipulates softly toned planes to create an aura of the boudoir, of a part of life only on view by special invitation. Her figure paintings are bet­ter than her landscapes because she seems to see subjects in terms of their vertical directions. Her most recent works are the best in the show.

Breckenridge does what he does very competently. Big slab forms rendered quickly and stacked upon each other in layers total one wall-like shape that seems to propel itself out from an un­painted or thinly washed field, just visible at the bottom of the canvas. The background is always in a lighter color than the major shape. The colors from the wall-form drip down over the ground and the result is a huge mass suspend­ed in space. Breckenridge then does the same thing in small oils and tem­peras and does it even better, which raises the question, “Why the large size?”

––Joanna C. Maglott