San Francisco

David Rosen

Galerie De Tours

Recent 1 paintings by an artist who rose to prominence in the Federal Art Projects of the 30’s, and was associated with Siqueiros in his workshop, along with Jackson Pollock and Philip Guston. Rosen slipped out of the art world for a time, while he caught up on living by way of serving at a number of trades.

His work fills three galleries here, and much of it falls into the category of social romanticism—groups of adolescents in moody blues, young thespians in dramatic gestures, some reminiscences of Weber’s sage prophets, all stated through a digest of accepted styles developed during the past 30 years.

Somewhere along the way, Rosen has revisited Shakespeare, and, taking the calculated risk of being called an illustrator, has been working toward a visual appreciation of the universal philosophies embodied in Shakespearean plays. He exhibits about 20 of these provocative works, along with a small series interpreting a soliloquy from Hamlet which form a unit to be sold as one work.

To place emphasis on content rather than technical virtuosity, Rosen uses a combination of transparent and milky glazes, applied with dripping, fully charged brush, letting lines and contours bleed freely. Along with a monochromatic palette and informal lettering ranging from precise print to demented scribble, his approach heightens the impact of the subject, only as an afterthought calling attention to the artist and his method, and gives an authentic tone of compelling Elizabethan understatement to the painting.

Rosen walks a tightrope here, and does it with deceptive skill. Yet, as if I afraid to address himself entirely to an esoteric audience, he includes a few real clinkers in the show. Whether as pacifiers or regressions is anybody’s guess

E. M. Polley