San Francisco

Ronald Dahl and Carl Jennings

Richmond Art Center

Paintings and drawings of figures in a strange state of weightlessness, and decorative iron works that have the feel of honest craftsmanship and the look of beauty.

Dahl has his own ideas on subject-matter and has painted in a style strongly influenced by Frank Lobdell, which would indicate a thick, painterly surface and wonderfully plastic composition, with shape defined by sinuous brush-stroke. Despite its suggestion of Munch and Kokoschka, Dahl’s idiom borders on Surrealism: floating figures of fantastically colored dogs and people (in that order of importance) held in suspension just above the earth’s surface by atmospheric pressure. A gentle but persistent airstream appears to be pushing them willy-nilly, robbing them of the self-determination and freedom they might have had with the stabilizing restrictions of gravity. Animal and man alike are without a point of reference—no up, no down, no north. Dahl gives moralistic titles, but whether he refers here to the winds of chance, or to a self-elected state blissfully free from all discipline is moot. In his series of small paintings on the subject of “Freedom” he seems to have indicated that too much freedom is no freedom.

Elizabeth M. Polley