Los Angeles

Ruth Rossman

Heritage Gallery

These paintings are genealogically lo­cated midway between two prominent West Coast tendencies: the form anal­yses of local academism, and the anony­mous genre of San Francisco. Happily though, this is not a recipe, for Ross­man may have enough fresh merit to stand alone, if she can disentangle her­self from the trap of contemporary figur­ative mannerism. Her models are caught in awkwardly poised moments of activ­ity, resting violently across perspectival benches and chairs, leaning emphati­cally on cross-membered balustrades, or frozen on the tilting spines of ladders. These scenes, with their Caravaggesque side light, become diagonal activations of designed structural and anatomical planes.

The prime statement is a monochromatic one, consequently the pure hues seem excessively artificial. Patterning and arbitrary draftsmanship could easily become first generalized, then tiresome. The canons of figure proportion and shape distortion (enlarged head and hips, thin limbs, and claw-like hands and feet) are already a well-worn cliché. We’ve already seen the agonized and agonizing struggles of Warshaw, Lebrun, de Erdely, and Broderson in these same pitfalls. But this figurative painter is working with both two and three-dimensional spatial arrangements, intent on capturing and heightening individual gestures. As well, they are painted in her own confident shorthand of unla­bored, stroke indications. As particu­larly sound one could list Running Figure #1Figures Contained-Women #1, and Women in Conversation #2.

Fidel A. Danieli