Los Angeles

Joan Maffei

Ceeje Gallery

An artist of undoubted evocative power, Joan Maffei, a product of Long Beach State College and UCLA, was given her second one-man exhibition at this gallery. Miss Maffei creates a rather terrifying world. Her world of solid objects in almost garish colors is peopled with icons, not humans, and it faintly recalls the worlds given to us by some of the Mexican social realists of the 1930s, yet developed in an anti-classical manner. Such a work as “Portrait of Carlo” with its strange, dark, powerful figure, cramped into a space too shallow to contain it, gauntleted arms raised high to hold or catch a strange, lighted globe, while some sort of nimbus floats over his head––turns out, on closer observation, to be the artist’s handsome three-year-old son, riding his tricycle, leaning back to catch a ball while his cowboy hat falls off. This child could be the personification of some obscure concept of a god fishing the universe out of a void, a god not only comprehensible to the natives of some unknown culture but also to the natives of the nearby jungle delineated in Kenneth Anger’s “Scorpio Rising”––the motorcycle-and-leather people. This quality of communication exists even in such still-life paintings as “Still-Life with Sunrise,” in which a group of lilies in a pot on a window sill, silhouetted against a sun-image takes on a meaning which is fraught with foreboding and unspoken brooding.

––H. J. Weeks

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