Los Angeles

Mel Ramos

David Stuart Gallery

Steps towards refinement are apparent in Ramos’ first one-man show in Los Angeles. The larger, newer paintings distinguish themselves from four earlier (1964) paintings also shown. Not only is he drawing better (why do his clumsy foreshortenings, taken from photographs, “work”?), but also his game of visual puns promotes a stronger irony. Seemingly devoid of bite, these paintings project a particularly Americanized fantasy: the suburban pseudo-playboy’s dream girl, displayed as an art object, ready to be sold alongside her all-American product. Although possibly not the most successful formally, Velveeta, for example, portrays lightly, with sensual, visual laughter, a “cheese spread.” For gentlemen who traditionally conceive of women as objects, these paintings are well worth the price.

Ramos’ cousin in painting, Wayne Thiebaud has chosen a different path with the American female. Thiebaud’s female figures are usually conceived with more bite and are better drawn. Ramos does not produce a consistently virtuoso surface as Thiebaud does, and his lazy background brush-marks, alongside his slick female-object-consumer items are annoying.

Susan R. Snyder