San Francisco

Sam Tchakalian

An impressive show of paintings by Sam Tchakalian recently took place at the San Francisco Art Institute, where the artist teaches. In the past Tchakalian has shown yellow paintings; in this show his palette is considerably larger, but each painting is in a single color. They are massive rectangles (several pieces consist of more than one rectangle), usually wider than they are high, ranging up to 20 feet in width; 15 pieces completely filled a sizeable gallery.

The paintings work so well together, and the show was so well installed in the Emanuel Walter Gallery of the SFAI’s new building, that I began to wonder if the whole might be greater than the sum of its parts. What you have if you have a single Tchakalian varies widely from one piece to another; if you have a whole gallery of Tchakalians you have a stunning environment. The artist has not exhibited his work often in recent years,

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