San Francisco

Robert Watson and Giancarlo Erizzo

Maxwell Galleries

Nothing is inherent­ly wrong with producing a series of variations on a theme: one need only mention Degas’ ballet dancers, Monet’s variations on the Rouen facade, or the inventive and exciting explorations of limited palette and restricted geometry so challenging to those facile in ab­stract idioms. Mr. Watson’s pretentious inanities, however, can hardly be termed “variations.” Two themes prevail in this showing: both are in the same “key,” and each is subjected to insignificantly variant repetitions-always in the same tonality, and in a tedious drone of spirit­less and pedestrian syntactical rhythms. There is either a lateral axis, usually defined as a vaguely Iberian or Pro­vencal stucco wall, along which doors and recesses are arranged in the monot­onous periodicity of inch-markings on a ruler, or there is an open vista, with dead-center vanishing point, around which, in the traceries of an “X”-axis, is a scattering of fussy little accents, fleecy clouds “echoed” by rippling cor­rugations in the earth. In the latter vein, certain modalities of conception, such as isolated monolithic objects casting shadows toward an horizon-at-­infinity, invite the designation “bargain basement Dali.” Frequently appearing in both of these contexts (inevitably in the same near-center location on the canvas) is either a little matador or a vague little rustic, each, respectively, always in the same posture and in the same costume.

Occasionally punctuating the practi­cally frame-to-frame juxtaposition of these grating reiterations are some lit­tle “portraits.” Like the rest of Mr. Wat­son’s work, these are but banal and thoughtless vapidities of easily con­trived affectations and very bad paint­ing.

Mr. Erizzo exhibits principally Paris cityscapes, Venetian scenes, and other European vistas, flatly composed and painted in rather lush colors and exotic spot-contrasts of warm and cool tonali­ties. The conceptions, which would be rather pleasing as travel posters, end up being a little pretentious on canvas, where a few Expressionist mannerisms are tidied up for popular appeal and consumption.

Palmer D. French