Los Angeles

James Weeks

Felix Landau Gallery

James Weeks’ canvases exhibit a high but uneven quality, due in part to a multiplicity of direction. They are generally of solid construction and bluntly rendered. The wide value range is shot through with arbitrary increases of high-key color, and the shapes sharply simplified to a point of illustrative description. But as he struggles to preserve a strictly detached attitude toward his subject matter, an underlying motive is discernible. His genre scenes of children are untainted by sympathy, the landscapes are cropped and flattened as in a binocular or telescopic view, and the allegories and film clowns are evidently conjured up from old photographic sources. They are, in turn, distant in emotional involvement, distant in space, and distant in time. He evidently wishes to realize monumental yet intimately experienced form, and the two are resolved most soundly in the anonymous but rewarding still lifes. The series of “Bottles and Paper Bag” maintains completely the self-respecting honesty of eye and hand Weeks strives so hard to achieve. Where he quibbles in the others, in these he observes, translates, and represents directly. The still life provides his narrow plane of space, a neutral color range which seems comfortable yet fresh, and permits the architectonic union of design, perspective and patterns of chiaroscuro. But then it takes humility and strength, like Morandi’s, to be content with the possibilities of simple challenge found in a world consisting of an arrangement on a tabletop.

Fidel A. Danieli