Los Angeles

Lowell Nesbitt

Rolf Nelson Gallery

It’s time somebody wrote, “The Relief of Sexual Repression In American Art.” One senses this restraint as a murky native tradition, even in the 17th century. It gains immensely in Winslow Homer, Glackens, Hopper and even Moses Soyer. The feelings held back by those broad-shouldered, busty, skinny nervous women who brood out of so many windows in the ’30s burst forth in the loquacious gabble of Gorky’s “The Plow and the Song,” and the coarse swath of de Kooning’s women. Edward Albee should write this history and he should include Lowell Nesbitt, who joins the newest interpretation––that of the insidious dead-pan affirmation that you don’t have to talk about it because it’s there anyhow.

Nesbitt, a New Yorker in his first West Coast appearance, paints flowers, the enormity of which explains their effect. These great blossoms, scaled to dwarf the viewer, are pushed towards us like nagging thoughts. Perforce, we consider the lilies; beautiful, useless, perfumed, sexually ambiguous––and in their present science-fiction dimensions, carrying the carnivorous overtones of the African flycatcher, with ourselves as the flies. Because Nesbitt paints for ideas rather than form it is almost by the way that one remarks on the elegance of his tonal orchestration, but that plays its part. Finally, however, we are shown the world of Narcissus. The works are both invitation and threat but painted so objectively as to make one’s response to them an act of self-definition.

––William Wilson

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