Los Angeles

David Elder

Comara Gallery

David Elder’s new sculptures at the Comara Gallery look as if they would shiver and retreat at a touch, like sea anemones. What they evoke of subtly perverse sexual imagery is their most positive, if not original, attribute. After one has optimistically gotten beyond their Freudian grip, what is left seems merely residue from innumerable other attempts—some better and some worse—to arrive at a synthesis between sexual, or funky, or surreal, imagery and the hard shiny materials of the modern technological era. Elder’s creations of black and white or black and yellow epoxy-coated fiberglass and steel operate half-heartedly on three or four levels. Besides their direct biological references, Elder insists upon making heavy visual puns about bathroom fixtures, fire hydrants and even, in a recent work incorporating a plexiglass box (Caution, Radioactive Material #1) about the age of the atom in general. This might be alright if we weren’t called upon as well to consider the artist’s handling of sculptural form in all its spatial, plastic and structural ramifications. It is always painful to be reminded that so much manifest effort as Elder displays can be received with unshakeable apathy.

One admires his impeccable surfaces and might succumb if they showed just an inkling of restraint or a trace of humor. But there is an added misfortune: Elder’s work is so similar to that of another younger local artist, Pat O’Neil, that even the pleasant illusion of novelty is denied. The final defeat is in finding oneself unable to care which came first.

––Jane Livingston