Los Angeles

Maxwell Hendler

Ceeje Gallery

One thinks of “Cinerama” when viewing Hendler’s three-dimensional portrait of “David.” This dramatically placed head, painted with photo-magazine slickness against a background of wooden houses, yard, windows and doors, executed with an attention to detail not unlike the Italian primitives but with an added element of 20th-century sophistication, is probably the best of Hendler’s works on display. Here he seems to have achieved a blending of illusion and reality that makes each more intensely the other. By contrast his scenic paintings, “Ocean Park” and “Main Street,” appear conventional, lacking the vitality of his more cerebral adventures into, the madness of the mundane. “Pomegranate” is a particularly memorable example of this latter style. Here he has placed the exotic fruit beside a transparent glass orange-juicer, and his concentration on his subject is so intense that both pieces are glamorously esotericized into absurd importance. This element of glamour is perhaps his most arresting quality and is the very thing which simultaneously attracts and repels the viewer, mainly because one suspects its essentially synthetic aspect, and that the fact beneath the facade may, after all, prove disillusioning.

Estelle Kurzen