Los Angeles

Laurence Dreiband

David Stuart Galleries

After some post-Hassel Smith and John Altoon meandering, David Stuart seems to have gotten back a bag: slick figure painting—Mel Ramos, Robert Harvey (perhaps Llyn Foulkes, though he paints rocks), and now Laurence Dreiband. Dreiband’s subjects are modified beaver girls whose poses connote both coprophilia and friendly candor; the models are featured in two modes: solid ground with a “stripe” of the ground crossing the figure, or with slice-of-vida-buena accoutrement (chair, swimming pool, binding rope). Dreiband’s technique is a conglomerate of staining, scratching, airbrushing, straight, opaque, brushy figure painting, and a scum-bled, photo-delivered,. wide-angle chiaroscuro, which gives him a “look” exactly midway between Philip Pearl-stein and Chuck Close. The two best pictures are a vertical canvas of a nice-looking girl strung up by her ankles (we are all susceptible to The Story of O), and a single holdover from earlier work, some palm trees. That. the latter is, by comparison, better, is a negative compliment: virtuosity (which is the name of Dreiband’s game) is best left unadorned, even by sex. Besides, Dreiband pulls a grainy cop-out on flashing vulvas, and an equivalent equivocation on compositional structure which is, on the whole, weak. The worst picture, three identical spread-legged girls receding at even intervals back into “space” in tints of white, green and pink, only adds Martial Raysse to the eclectic esthetic.

Peter Plagens