Los Angeles

Frank Gallo

Felix Landau Gallery

Viewed at the Felix Landau Gallery, Frank Gallo’s epoxy resin figures fall into a unique stylishness recalling the voluptuousness of a more languorous period. Pointedly posed and poised they exhibit enormous taste, chic, and graphic detailing usually associated with fashion illustration, or more accurately, a fin-de-siecle decadence. The plastic seems freely molded, cut, and etched (a sharp tool carving and drawing) and stained with pigment. (The source for the etched or drypoint line quality may be found in the work of Mauricio Lasansky at the State University of Iowa where Gallo received his MFA degree.)

Though patinas of pinks, ochres, and browns are used, the material’s inherent yellowish tone predominates; most favorably it is comparable to the solidity of wood or the translucence of marble or ivory; at its worst, solid but impure beeswax. While unmistakably sculptures, they nevertheless fall depressingly somewhere between artful James Gill waxworks and fine department store mannikins. Not in intent realistic, Gallo’s sense of line and volume produces a rigid grace, stop action yet fluid, hovering between the death mask and precise stylization. His line is sinuous, the forms compacted. The quality of being effigies is compounded by the figures’ self confident removal, as if sunk within themselves; they are ghosts of a mannerist presence. Only Knee Bend Figure, Standing Beach Figure (1965), and Girl Running (1966) are easy and assertive, even humorous. The seated sinking figures and relief-like males fare poorly, so heavily oppressed, made shallow, and scarred are they. The show revolves around a creepy repulsion and a fatal attractiveness.

Fidel A. Danieli