Los Angeles

Robert Harvey

David Stuart Galleries

Three years ago, I was put off by the time-warp sophistry of Robert Harvey’s pictures; it seemed that light, hothouse nostalgia about the thirties, rendered in very-sixties graphic design techniques (line-resolution chiaroscuro), was a bubble soon to burst. In this current show, I can see that my description is right, but my estimate of its staying power was wrong. Harvey’s exhibition, like Wiley’s, is in two parts: 1) a “room” of twenty canvas panels on which there appears. a uniform “wallpaper” of leaves and flowers executed in reddish-brown, olive, and dark green and figures of women, children and occasional adult males dressed like Will Rogers, Winnie Ruth Judd and Spanky, and 2) seven addenda paintings of bonneted women’s heads, from the same melancholic period. The mood of the room is that of a lost summer vacation, a fourth of July of early boyhood, and the flavor is what we kids used to see Hoot Gibson in during the forties: “Cinecolor.” The feet of each of the figures in the room are chopped off by the bottom framing molding, evoking a sadness exceeded only by the pathos of the little sailor boy all by himself on the panel immediately to the right of the “doorway” (up close, the violent perspective furnished by the location of one’s head relative to the image intensifies the sensation). I admit to being “moved” by the room more than I am moved by like phenomena so prevalent in the design biz and on hour-long television programs, but I cannot see the sense in wallowing in lost innocence, social and esthetic.

Peter Plagens