New York

James Weeks

Poindexter Gallery

James Weeks’ new paintings make another strong show by this Californian, though the seriousness of the problems stated in these works perhaps surpasses the degree of successful resolution reached in any single picture. Weeks again and again runs head-on into the difficulty of maintaining the structural integrity of his compositions on the picture plane while using pictorial schemes that involve reckless excursions into deep landscape space. His high color, tending to angular areas, sacrifices volume in his forms to compositional arrangements curiously at variance with the plasticity implied by his subjects. When he can place figures against a close background plane as in Portrait of a Song Writer and the solid Two Women, Weeks brings off a laudable solution to the plasticity-vs-plane dilemma, recalling the stable monumentality of a good ripe Beckmann from the late thirties. Still-life offers less challenge for Weeks since such compositions are tailored to his gifts and do not demand his utmost application. Large Studio and Large Still-Life with Two Shelves are successes too easily gained. Interesting disasters overtake ambitious undertakings in the large pictures combining figures and landscapes. In Woman on the Terrace Weeks lets atmospheric rendering solve his spatial problems and then unaccountably permits light to corrode the surface of the figure in the foreground. Looking for rhythms in the handling to knit things together discovers only a virtuoso stroke too pedestrian for the purpose. There is no fudging though; Weeks’ grapplings with his chosen issues are not exhibition matches. Anyone fatigued with tasty demonstrations of the California “maniera” will respect and admire Weeks’ direct confrontation of the inexhaustible complexities of figurative painting.

Dennis Adrian