Los Angeles

Roger Kuntz

Felix Landau Gallery

The exhibition of Roger Kuntz sculpture of swimmers, sirens, mermaids, water dancers and beach watchers at the Landau Gallery is lively fare for the summer season. The cavorting ladies, whether soaring, floating, diving, or prancing in and above the water seem wonderfully at ease in their new environment. The frivolous attitudes attained by the figures in no way rejects the authority with which Kuntz arranges the outflung arms, legs, heads, breasts and buttocks of his careless ladies. Sometimes distorting to Lachaise’s elephantine dimensions, the artist deals directly and freely with those portions of the human female anatomy which allow such liberties without total destruction of natural reference. This is particularly true in the case of the Manatee pair where Kuntz has ignored normal proportions in order to reinvent forms with relationships of singular power. The Water Dancers series, six variations on an old theme of Anna Hyatt Huntington—three nymphs dancing in a ring-around-the-rosie formation—almost seem to be cast from a single mold, but close inspection reveals a vast vocabulary of positions.

This freedom of invention is held in restraint, however, for when the sculptor approaches his subject with a more dutiful eye the results are just as compelling. Water Woman, a magnificent bronze figure, standing thigh-deep in a pool, is both a strange sanctification of the element in which she is poised as well as a frank bid for physical adoration.

The promptings for artistic expression are mysterious indeed, and in looking back on past performances of Roger Kuntz, one wonders how the current series could have been the outgrowth of his development. Unpredictable as it may have been, it is nonetheless one more highlight in a highly respectable career.

Curt Opliger