Los Angeles

Helen Hagstrom, Helen Luitjens, and Robert Del Monte

Westwood Gallery

Though strongly derivative of Giacometti, the welded sculpture of Robert Del Monte has an energy and exuberance that is all his own. He is at his best in capturing the immediate gesture, and among the best examples of this are Acrobats, Dancing Horse, and Diving Woman. There is also humor and satire in such pieces as Male Torso, so reminiscent of a tailor’s dummy. His more abstract work is weaker structurally and does not come off as well. Spatial, Rooftops, and Peaks fall into that category. These appear too arbitrarily constructed and do not have the organic unity of his figurative pieces. Del Monte works with great energy and speed and the exuberance of his style is best fulfilled in action and caricature where the immediate impact of a subject upon his imagination is given full play.

Helen Luitjens’ potpourri includes a variety of styles from yard goods to greeting cards. Her Abstract Expressionist watercolors, such as Kaleidoscope and Fantastic Forest are effusive without being poetic and the result is bombast. If she had less commercial flair, she would have to be more imaginative, which in turn might cut down her production while noticeably improving its quality.

One wishes that the canvases of Helen Hagstrom functioned more as paintings than as settings for the dramatic scenes and characters of the artist’s imagination. In Thanatos and The Erinyes there is drama and terror in the images themselves, but neither of the paintings functions as a completely unified whole. There are whole areas of the canvas that are left unresolved and this lack of structure cannot be compensated for by elaborately thick paint surfaces or poetic titles. Transcendence, Nordic, and Land of Prometheus exist in spatial confusion and are totally unresolved paintings. If the artist’s intensity of dramatic feeling were less, one would not feel the gap between form and content so keenly.

Estelle Kurzen