Los Angeles

William Ptaszynski

Rex Evans Gallery

Student and admirer of the late Rico Lebrun, Ptaszynski’s devotion shows but subtly in his work. His admiration seems to have been more for the man than for the great legacy of work left behind, and correctly so, as too many students and would-be emulators have tried and failed to match Lebrun’s monumental strides. Ptaszynski’s watercolor landscapes betray the eye by proposing a lacy delicate composition which in turn veils too successfully a more potent statement lurking beneath. The underlying force is where echoes of Lebrun may be found but the surface configuration executed in soft pastels is the soft-spoken and not unwelcome voice of the student.

The presentations are valid as they are—colorful, intellectual, and deeply personal—but each painting (all are titled Terranum) appears as a carefully prepared environment, a backdrop before which a long awaited drama is to be enacted. The setting is, of course, important, helping to establish mood, time, and situation. There is no reason to assume it cannot exist as an isolated entity unembellished with action. But there is a persistent sense of unfulfillment, as though the house lights had dimmed, the music came up, the curtain raised, but no performers appeared on cue. So there you sit in anticipation awaiting that first movement to signify the beginning of the performance. In this case it never commences. So far as he goes, Ptaszynski paints with agility and imagination but until he completes an authoritative script to give significance to his efforts, they will remain pleasantly colored, well-composed backdrops.

Curt Opliger