Los Angeles

Robert Chuey

Fleischer/Anhalt Gallery

Robert Chuey’s impressions of a recent visit to the Swiss Alps, in the form of fourteen energetic, Expressionistic oil paintings and a number of drawings, are at Fleischer/Anhalt. In eleven of the large oils, Chuey works for the first time in black and white. They all deal with groups of crystalline planes and surfaces: even areas suggesting the flow of glacial masses are densely broken up. Landscape at Eiger is the most remarkable of these, having a boldness and all-over drive that the others lack. The angular forms seem in some places to push upward, and in others to tumble diagonally down upon each other. One or two passages have a great calligraphic beauty, and the difficulty of handling white paint over blacks is met competently. In the larger Gothic Landscape, on the other hand, Chuey has perhaps attempted too much. Its energies are unpleasantly diffuse and irregular. Nevertheless, one passage in the upper right quarter of this canvas (reminiscent of Duchamp’s Nude Descending Staircase) has a tumultuous force which makes it possibly the most brilliant of any in the show.

One’s initial thought on confronting any of the three large multicolored oils (Saanen, Toward the West; Alps; Wintertime) is of their profound affinity to Kandinsky’s pre-war style. In fact, it is impossible to see them in any other light. If one doesn’t mind this sort of plagiarizing, and likes Kandinsky, they can be enjoyed for their sensitive treatment of patchy color and the sometimes wavering, sometimes soaring linear elements. These paintings, too, depict mountainous terrain, but in a less crashing, subtler manner.

Jane Livingston