Los Angeles

Susaan Lautman Hertel

Comara Gallery

Shape handling, solid composition and a mood of relaxed correctness make Hertel’s paintings look fine. She reminds us of Vuillard because of her muted ochres, blacks and browns. She makes domestic interiors and likes to use dogshapes and other commonplaces of the menage in chopped-off views. Shapes are her principal ploy; she uses them decoratively and she uses them to force space. Rarely does she elaborate them, leaving them to function as planes.

It is harder to join those who praise either her brush or her color. She characteristically applies paint thinly with a fast, scrubbing motion. The result is a sparse and overactive surface which lacks variety. Her use of fat paint shows buttery. Her ancestors, Gauguin, Vuillard, Matisse and, locally, Roger Kuntz, share an ability to make the difficult look easy. Hertel sometimes fudges difficulties in favor of effects. Her small, Zajac-like bronze sculptures of animals likewise take the gesture for the deed. It is a commonplace of the studio that in order to create believable organic totalities they must proceed from the specific to the general.

William Wilson

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