Los Angeles

Robert Cottingham

Molly Barnes Gallery

While Johns plays upon the unavoidable dualism of pictorial and real elements, there is always (present) the pure illusionist alternative, using the world as a “source,” a handmaiden buttressing the picture with the aura of craft, the respectability of precision and the weight of tradition. Hardly any of us being beyond the awe of realist exercises, Cottingham not unsurprisingly wins prizes for his thing. Cottingham’s seven oils, about five by six feet each, are encapsulations of closeup sign fragments, lifted via camera from the portals of nascently delapidating shops in the six-hundred block of downtown Broadway. Strangely, they’re all more alike than the same automobile in various models, and they seem more a cut-out series than most stellas. The content of each is the same, the store name lettering in neon, shadow-box, awning, etc., and enough background (well, not quite; everything

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