Los Angeles

William Waldren

Dwan Gallery

The highly responsive criticism given Waldren’s past work seems ludicrous in the context of the present exhibition. In the light of previous superlatives one cannot help but be surprised, amazed, confused and thoroughly disappointed by these overbearing and pretentious wall sculptures.

The failures of these particular reliefs are specific. Their imagery seems to be little more than a kind of extra-terrestrial appearance as noncommittal and as chancy as the photographed surface of the moon, which they at times resemble. They also resemble gigantic, yet harmless heads of flies, tentacles and little hills with holes in them that seem to spring from some common European origin constantly being exhumed from the tomb of Hieronymus Bosch—a kind of surrealism without the realism.

Given that the intent of the artist may be to express just such a sense of vastness, void and silence along with all the peripheral emotions (loneliness, abandonment, etc.) that one would be expected to feel while living on the surface of a stucco planet, these works tend to ignore the fact that all this should mean something. And although the image is up-dated and manipulated with materials best described as fashionable, they actually mean very little.

On the more technical level, and there is no telling how destructive this may have been to any possible achievement of intention, Waldren simply fails to involve himself with the definition and refinement such materials demand. Consequently there are cracks where cracks should not be, meaningless flakes collect in the bottom of a plastic bubble and reveal an arbitrary sense of texture. Simply put, the artist permitted his materials to control him rather than meet the first consideration of any creative response, which is the complete dominance and mastery of device. One cannot mix candor and calculation; and until this is resolved there is very little more that can, or should be said.

Clair Wolfe