Los Angeles

Annita Delano

Ceeje Gallery

A Cali­fornia garden may contain at the mo­ment of our perception, forms of all the phases in the great cycle of living, just as the iris crowns a single stalk with budding and marcescent flowers. Annita Delano paints from a garden­er’s wisdom, her abundant and fluctu­ating images bear witness that immor­tality is a dynamic capacity for re­newal rather than an immobile identity. The exhibition as a whole and the in­dividual works themselves show the re-use, emergence and completion of living memories happy to return to seed again in the artist’s consciousness.

The present exhibition is Miss De­lano’s first since her retirement last year as a professor at U.C.L.A. Since she delights in working wet into wet, opportunity for painting and imagining uninterrupted by the demands of teach­ing, has resulted in prodigious and lus­cious works of staggering energy and innocence. An indomitable and com­pletely self-motivated worker, Miss De­lano as a young woman was a member of the Barnes Foundation, subject to the temperament and brilliance of Barnes’ acute ego. She travelled in Europe meeting her cousin Robert De­launay and other artists then engaged in the re-creation of art by reforming nature through drawing and color. Cha­gall, Matisse, the great Renoirs and Cézannes of the Barnes collection, men and paintings sprang into the reality of the young American woman, but it would take her many years to make their prescience merge invisibly into her own creative language. For nineteen summers she camped in Arizona and New Mexico, a familiar spirit to the In­dians; one whose curiosity immunized her against fear or concern over physi­cal comforts. Her affection for the na­tural world created a treasury of de­tailed studies of beetles, grasshoppers, rock formations, cloud shadows, and the gnarled gestures common to both Juni­per trees and walnuts.

Annita Delano has painstakingly pre­pared for this, her flowering period as a painter. The foundation of her mut­able brushwork with all its rhythmic vitality, was built with great labor through years of slow accuracy. Simi­larly the heady color experiences of these paintings, particularly those of the garden themes and Album Leaf were ripened by recurrent submission to the exigencies of perception. What heightens the richness of these works is their innocence which is somehow re­lated to the fact that Miss Delano in­troduces herself to them as they take on the visiblizing crust of pigment. The canyon visualizations done in col­ored ink on crinkly parchment and Akimbo, a dancing girl amidst snake plants and fruit, vividly manifest her skill at manipulating perspective and plastic space until the perceiver’s eyes scintillate.

Rosalind G. Wholden