Los Angeles

Jerrold Burchman

Felix Landau Gallery

This is the first American exhibition of work by a 25 year old California painter who has been living and painting for the past two years in Rome. The general conception of his work is figurative, but tends to be divided between two different approaches to the figure. In the pictures of 1964, figures are most often buried among tightly knit, convoluted forms and set into a painterly abstract space. In the 1965 pictures, though, the subjects dominate and are surrounded by various elements drawn from the history of twentieth century art.

Burchman’s real subject, thus, must be seen in terms of an historically predetermined glossary of images and techniques compiled from virtually every major approach to twentieth century painting. Each picture makes use of numerous devices designed, apparently, to catalog and to prove the coherence of the many seemingly opposed directions that have from time to time dominated the art of this century. One sees, in a given picture, areas taken from Matisse, Redon, the early abstractions of the German Expressionists, Surrealism and even a touch of West Coast figure painting. In another, one finds references to Synthetic Cubism combined with a gallery of deep, illusory landscape references. His portrait of Le Douanier Rousseau combines references to most of the techniques of the School of Paris in the first quarter of this century, while another, more abstract painting seems to translate Rauschenberg into a softer more European language.

Unfortunately, the exhibition was previewed under extremely difficult conditions and it is, thus, impossible to attempt a description of the effect of the paintings when properly hung and lit. A general impression, however, is that one would find his experience of the pictures dominated by the artist’s eclecticism, and the game of “Name the Artist” would distract from a sense of pictures as complete, coherent statements. One would hope that, like for example, Jasper Johns, whose recent work is filled with references to other art, Burchman will be able to find a more personal use for his material.

Don Factor