San Francisco

Barbara Barengo

Michael Walls Gallery

Another young artist’s debut show was featured by the Michael Walls Gallery in presenting paintings by Barbara Barengo, whose lyrical abstractions in subdued, opaque colors, expounding highly involved, composed relationships of well defined shapes, color masses and linear rhythms, represent not only a rejection of Abstract Expressionism but likewise a turning away from the rigid and quasi technological schematism associated with Op and Hard Edge techniques, toward a re examination of some of the approaches to the esthetics and dynamics of abstraction that prevailed a half century ago.

In such works as Separation Highway, a construction painting in acrylic on a plywood framework of receding cut-away partitions (similar to a theater stage’s complex, multilevel “picture plane” of receding drops and flats), the painting reveals a refreshingly insightful re-exploration of methods and mannerisms of composition reminiscent of the patternings evolved from a matrix of Cubist formal vocabulary by Albert Gleizes. The painted shapes (as in Gleizes) define flat areas in a frontal plane; optically contrived depth-illusion is substituted with the actual physical three-dimensionality of the receding panels, with one glaring exception: painted on the outer-and forward most top and bottom marginal frame-pieces of the construction is a precisely plotted, textbook perspective-grid.

Miss Barengo is clearly engaged in a highly individual, resourceful, and in large measure successful search for new expressive possibilities in combining elements from a neglected epoch of the recent past with contemporaneous avenues of invention.

Palmer D. French