Los Angeles

G. Ray Kerciu

Comara Gallery

To anyone familiar with the elegant, polemic visual protests of an earlier Kerciu, this collection of a score of paintings and a few odd objects represents a puzzling and strangely depressing transformation. There is no readily perceptible genealogy and, what’s more, the new paintings seem to have been produced with considerably less passion and no more craft than their predecessors. Kerciu has limited himself to advantage in scale and motif––the medium-sized squares and portable horizontal rectangles set well in a small, architecturally deprived gallery and his diamonds, circles, and metamorphosized flowers read with the compact clarity of boxcar emblems. The most formidable problem arises when the artist must make do with a self-imposed, piercing color arsenal, and the necessarily a-planal construction that the mode demands. In most instances a curiously irresolute plasticity results; brown and black adjoined create not the depth ambivalence that was once desirable among painters, but indecision; blue, chartreuse and yellow are cleverly flavored to defy what orthodox harmony might lie among them, but offer no alternative way of assimilating this new color relationship. Within the precise, calculated bounds of geometric abstraction (Kerciu now seems closer to Marsden Hartley or Charles Sheeler than to Bridget Riley or Richard Anuszkiewicz) the smallest color change demands, aside from neatness, intense consideration or else it becomes atavistically brutal and the body, with a slight queasy feeling, rejects it like an unfamiliar drug. Kerciu has found a style to accommodate an apparent change of philosophy, but he has not found a replacement for the delicious fragments of popular politics, stenciled letters, and found images that used to populate his works. What seeps through the present show is a genuine creative impatience with a new, but limited way of picture-making, and this impatience is manifested in color.

Peter Plagens