San Francisco

Warren Brandon, Richard Heidsiek, Six Spanish Printmakers, and Helen Breger

Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento

Brandon’s semi-abstrac­tions of bridges and ships are both colorful and decorative. Heidsiek’s wa­tercolors of a rather ethereal Mexico represent a very personal interpretation, seemingly filtered through Feininger and Shahn.

It is the printmakers who make this an outstanding month at the Crocker. The Spaniards, Julio Zachrisson, Jose Vento, Marcel Yrizarry, Francisco Echauz, Julio Martin-Caro and Angelo Medina, are all from Madrid. The spirit of Goya is the catalyst that binds their strongly individualistic styles into a unified group—the Goya that wrote “The Sleep of Reason brings forth Monsters” under one of his prints.

Spaniards are known for a bizarre approach to subject matter, and a love of the fantastic. Characteristically, these artists see man either as a base clown deserving of his fate or as a tragic figure doomed from the begin­ning—enslaved by his subconscious, prey to the supernatural, and, in com­petition with the animal, coming off second best even when seemingly vic­torious.

Zachrisson and Echauz are at polar­ities in style. One is a Surrealist, the other an abstractionist. Zachrisson’s expert draftsmanship and sensitive value pattern compose a vocabulary for some of the most devastating com­mentary seen here for a long time. His high-tension line and silvery tones cre­ate a weird, nightmarish atmosphere for witches, rites, ghoulish magicians and ancient hags. Echauz contrasts shapes and values in dramatic patterns. In his Corrida series, the sharp white curve of a horn thrust suddenly from velvety black shadow suggests a men­ace far in excess of mere physical pain and the dark mass of a killed bull lays like a weight on the conscience. There is no victory—from out of the darkness another shape appears.

Helen Breger, a San Francisco print­maker, is a figurative artist. But it is the rhythmic arrangement of big black shapes and their abstract qualities that give her prints their special char­acter. In them content grows out of form. From an international roster of people and places she chooses her types and environment, adding the alchemy of her own vision to create an atmos­phere that borders on the surreal.

Elizabeth M. Polley