Los Angeles

Peter Saul

Rolf Nelson Gallery

Peter Saul appears to be a very troubled young man in many ways and a troub­led young painter in more. During his eight year residence in Europe, Saul has evolved a Rube Goldberg cartoon style of presentation with which he attempts too many things at one time. From across the ocean Saul aims his arrows at American comics, advertis­ing, TV, pulp magazines, capital punishment, sexual hypocrisy, momism, po­lice graft, etc. Apparently prompted by violent indignation and anger, they fall short of their target, for anger is not an ingredient of his pictures. He employs funny visual symbols such as Donald Duck (Everyman?), and cues us for a grin with “Ha Ha” and laugh-­provoking words borrowed from the old “Ballyhoo” magazine (such as “truss”), yet his pictures do not amuse. They abound with phalli, breasts and other sexual references, drip with excrement and scatological symbolisms which somehow arouse neither resentment nor shock. It would seem the artist’s soap-box is both inappropriate and in­adequate to his task.

An admirer of such diverse figurative painters as Beckmann, Diebenkorn, Orozco, and Bacon, Saul has acquired little of their power, and none of their clarity, but has restricted himself to a vague kind of inventive imagery, somewhat Surrealist, somewhere Pop, somehow Cubist, and in someways interesting, but rarely moving.

––Curt Opliger