los-angeles

Manuel Neri and Joan Brown

David Stuart Galleries

Neri’s powerful, life­size plaster of Paris desdichados seem to grow (or decay) out of the post-­atomic phase of the iconography of despair. This is their content and context, but their virtue is not in what they say about the condition of hu­manity, for this view gets frequent ex­posure at all levels from kitsch to kul­tur, but in spite of it. One therefore grudgingly admits that these are form­ally impressive works with a fine sculp­tural and dramatic presence. The use of plaster is a frighteningly effective medium for this morbid vision and strikes the proper chill note, but it is also a satisfying material for the plan­al angularity and sculptural solidity of Neri’s approach to the figures. The dis­tortions do work in a fairly interesting sculptural manner, even if they bore in their literal message of hump-backed, swell-jointed, limbless deformity. Neri has a fine sense of the way

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