Los Angeles

Courtenay Moon and Thomas Bang

Esther-Robles Gallery

Painter Courtenay Moon and sculptor Thomas Bang are shown at the Esther-Robles Gallery. Moon paints in a lightweight Abstract Expressionist vein except that he is not basically inclined to abstraction. His recent tendency to disguise directly recognizable subject matter is superficial, and with the exception of one work (Blue Fall) the paintings read as thin colorful washings around imposed objects. Emerging Table is so titled to call attention to the subject; however the table does not emerge at all—instead it sits sketched in black over the fabric of painted ground, looking very much like an image by Bernard Buffet. A very recent work, Tokyo Revisited, depicts a loose calligraphic character over an oval, “Oriental” orange shape; one hopes, without much reason, that the artist means to parody a particularly overworked idiom in American painting.

Bang’s pieces sit on the floor and are made of painted plywood and painted rope. He uses rope sometimes to enclose space (Thing #2, Commemoration Piece) and more often in stiff projecting fringes. Edge-business is a turquoise disc with pink, orange, yellow and chartreuse bristles arcing from the circular edge to touch the floor all around. It looks rather like a monstrous toy insect. Commemoration Piece seems to satirize military games; it reminds one both of a tactical model and a monument to war. It is comprised of a square mauve slab with eight posts placed symmetrically around corners and sides. The interior space is closed off by heavy gold-sprayed rope strung through the posts. The rope serves to place on display a square soldier-like configuration of stiff orange pieces of twine protruding up from the center of the wooden base. Whether Bang aims primarily for a playful quality in these works or a feeling of ominousness is not clear. Neither quality is strong enough to leave a very potent aftertaste.

––Jane Livingston