San Francisco

“Summer Exhibits”

Berkeley Gallery

This is perhaps the most significant of recently organized galleries, primarily devoted to the younger group of Bay Area painters and sculptors. Among the painters exhibited here during June and July were Boyd Allen, Charles E. Gill and Patrick Tidd. Mr. Allen’s vib­rant canvases amply demonstrate that there are still challenging possibilities of invention and individuality of style in Abstract Expressionism, while Mr. Gill and Mr. Tidd are well into the frontiers of post-abstract expressionist and post-new imagist explorations. Mr. Gill’s canvases are somber and reflec­tive, amalgamating elements from ab­stract expressionist, new image and pop art techniques in a manner that reveals deep understanding and a sure­ness of direction. There are large, broadly-painted areas of vague murky shapes, and there are elements of the incongruous (such as an old Kodak camera fixed to the canvas). A pair of standing figures may be decapitated by a band of distant shoreline landscape suggesting some remembered photo­graph of the Bay of Naples or the French Riviera. However, the absurd is introduced not as parody but in a manner that heightens a pervading sense of these works being intensely poignant personal fantasies or free as­sociative recollections. One seems con­fronted with a “new surrealism” which, unlike the surrealism of Dali and Mag­ritte is contrived not with the painting techniques of the European past, but with techniques that have been evolved in the mainstream of American paint­ing over the past fifteen years.

In Mr. Tidd’s canvases concentric rectangular linear configurations are crisply stated in bright colors and fas­tidiously flat surfaces after the manner of the Hard-Edge school, only to be marred by a paint splash or a facetiously introduced element of collage. This work is humorful and buoyant: ele­ments of formal construction, as well as of referential imagery are constantly juxtaposed and explored in a way that is playful and improvisatory and satiri­cal at various levels of comprehension.

The outstanding sculpture exhibited this season was by Melvin Moss, whose assemblages of brightly colored poly­chromed wood and metal bear some affinity to the thinking of Mr. Tidd. Found objects are altered and juxtaposed in clean streamlined geometries. Here too the keynote is improvisatory playfulness both in the handling of formal relationships and the arrange­ments of connotative allusions. There are, however, more serious moments: a work entitled Ucello presents an ultimate abstract simplification of the ominous majesty of the giant bird of prey in soaring flight.

––Palmer D. French