San Francisco

Joan Savo

Hollis Gallery

Joan Savo, lately an abstract-expressionist, who also would complete a limited number of figure paintings in any given year’s work, has reversed the procedures and is currently exhibiting a body of work depicting single figures surrounded by indefinite landscape or interior space.

Mrs. Savo’s painterly use of alternately warm and cool greys and blacks sustains these works in much the same way that the colors functioned in the earlier abstractions. In her best earlier work there was a specificity in the nonrepresentational shapes that made those paintings work in a peculiar manner—a kind of portrait way, really. For, in the act of painting a completely improvised shape or series of related shapes, the intensity of purpose in the artist’s mind produced a plastic idea so visually right that it was difficult to imagine that the objects never existed before.

The portrait in the more conventional sense is seen throughout her current show. At their worst they are merely illustrative paint-notes about a person. At their best they are competent pictures in the virtuoso tradition. The exhibition is not at all bad but one would like to see a few more chances taken—the rewards being proportionately higher.

James Monte