Los Angeles

Barry Fantoni

Comara Gallery

Barry Fantoni, a 28-year old London artist, obviously can handle a brush well, and by combining casein, ink, and oil he does give his satisfying compositions a richness. But judging his work on its intended purpose, as a reflection of society rather than on the means employed, most of the themes used are a previous year’s success and are no longer able to stimulate their original interest.

Examples on view date from 1961 and hit such subjects as “Juke Box Jury,” Pop Art’s woman with her applied decorations, and the British government. The subjects are either dated or boring because already too familiar, though all the paintings are visually pleasing. (Funny enough, one lively but unplanned reference is made in “Juke Box Jury” in which a “45” suggests the current French vogue of dancing to records.)

Fantoni works from the morning newspaper, though not to preach. With this attitude, although disapproving of much, he creates a satire that does not bite. From a series of paintings containing Prince Phillip which once brought Fantoni notoriety, one is included and depicts the Prince as a cut-out with changes of dress about him. It is not a statement to the effect that the Prince has a facility for slipping into something more expedient, but rather an observation that the British people see him, in Fantoni’s words, “as a figure who always appears in a great variety of clothes”

Several monotypes evidence Fantoni to be a skilled printmaker and an artist whose eye will allow him to produce enduring art as soon as he finds more essential statements to make.

Molly Siple