Los Angeles

Larry Bell

Ferus Gallery

The recent work of Larry Bell reveals distinctly the amplification of a simple but profound visual truism: a mirror reflects. And, on to its frightening corollary, that two or more parallel facing glasses reflect each other endlessly.

Beginning at a point of traditional, painted geometry (albeit the canvases were twisted to the isometric proportions of a lozenge), a first step was the insetting of a painted mirror and glass panel within the “frame” of a painting. (It would, we note, have been comfortable for this young artist to have tarried at this point, and perfectly reasonable for him to have maintained the vague simile to the 20’s, onyx jewel-window luxury of his “Lux” series.)

Pursuing the premise further, we enter the domain of constructed boxes; first, narrow ones possessing a single favorable point of view, then on to freestanding equal-sided boxes with two visual entrances. There is a passing from a two-dimensional surface or relief effect to a peek-hole observation of an exploding interior. This is made readily apparent, in what may be the final stage, with cubes whose sides repeat a single mirrored pattern of stripes and ovals or checkerboards, the most truly three-dimensional, magically effective and overpowering.

In keeping with those conditions which seem to be the major Ferus “program,” one may properly admire the indomitable spirit of repetition and development, the consummate craftsmanship and mechanical precision, the hard chrome-lined calculation of symmetry and surface, and the rigorous demands made upon the viewer under the guise of a concept of beauty as seeming stylishness achieved by unadulterated guts.

Besides these, in approaching Bell’s creations, the innocent Alice attitude of enchanted wonderment rapidly gives way to a shocked bewilderment, amazement, and perhaps even irritation, for our very precious entity is literally fractured, shredded to ribbons, and ultimately destroyed. We in fact destroy their serene purity by looking into them. And paradoxically, the more we endeavor to perceive, the less we comprehend in a world where stereometric vision reduces us to a helpless near blur and a stretch of infinity. The modus operandi of Duchamp has been described as an aloof assault. The term applies with equal veracity to that of Bell.

Fidel A. Danieli