Los Angeles

Flavio Cabral

Dalzell Hatfield Galleries

This first one-man show represents a three-year output, and reveals a continuing preoccupation with composition and detail. The canvases are meticulously painted, leaving the viewer with the impression that each work was intellectually conceived and executed without the slightest twinge of emotion. His figures stand or remain seated, they are all identically proportioned and costumed, and only their facial expressions and hands vary slightly in an act of looking, listening, concern, or supplication. Frozen in space, posturing against a timeless stage-setting, the statuesque creatures seem to be acting out an ancient unresolved dream.

Cabral’s style is difficult to classify; he is not a “modernist,” nor an academic realist. His figures are usually circular columns (even the drapery is tube-like). Only in Trio, a group of three amorphous nudes, is there a suggestion of anatomical planes.

Two canvases of spherical experiments with the figure are a departure from his uncluttered and stylistic idiom. While the technical virtuosity is commendable, the effort is inconclusive. Cabral’s cityscapes project the same historic distance, timelessness, profound loneliness and sense of arrested action as his figures. Quiet Day in Lisbon is an unresolved statement with an overburdened cobblestone pattern.

This is a mood-evoking exhibition charged with psychological and mystical portent—yet the style of painting is dangerously close to the decorative.

––Betje Howell