San Francisco

Helen Breger

Cellini Gallery

The very contrasty black and white aquatint etching is Mrs. Breger’s métier. The drawings and acrylic washes that form almost half of this show might better have been left in folio; they detract from the powerful prints. These engravings record the artist’s view of various scenes in Europe: a piazza in Florence with tiny pedestrians across a sunny expanse bordered with black Renaissance buildings, or a group of peasants from Greece, hard work and hard experience written into their faces. “The Beach” is a scene of many types, a hatted, bearded and coated man walking near a huge, briefly attired sun bather on a folding chair, a woman with cello, the guard stand, the bay, and a fun land sketchily indicated in the background. Some of the prints were pressed from plates of curious shape, such as “Cafe and Bar Chez L’Eternite” of dark figures in a dark place on a broken fragment. Another of more normal shape, but with the fragmentary shapes within the picture, a piano in silhouette before a mirror which mirrors the mirror across the room. Her style is a matter of commitment to a fairly specific technique of engraving, but the pictures are infinitely various: a close-up of faces, a crippled candy vendor with gocart and pony, a panoramic scene, an interior vignette, all made of rich black shadows in which detail is obscure and secretive, firm black lines delineating forms in a bright light, and vast stretches of unrelieved white.

Knute Stiles