Los Angeles

John B. Dobbs

The Carter Gallery

A series of masterfully self-confident oils and drawings clearly show Dobbs as an inheritor of American social realist painting of the thirties and forties. One need not be told of his studies with Jack Levine—they are apparent in his conception of the figure and in the refracted, rapid paint handling. Ben Shahn’s influence is less apparent but is reflected in Dobbs’ tendency to use socially conscious subject matter almost as a motif. A love of rich paint surfaces and design effects that exist for their own sake tend to dull the bite of pictures whose subjects are in the Goya tradition of man’s inhumanity to man. Where we are least aware of theme, as in Tattooed Man, we are most convinced of emotion. It is a great problem of skillful and dashing painters, like Rico Lebrun, whom Dobbs also sometimes resembles, that their very skill at oratory sometimes makes them appear rhetorical.

William Wilson