Los Angeles

Jack Bush

Nicholas Wilder Gallery

I’ve gotten more interested in the Canadian color painter Jack Bush since I found out he’s a middle-aged guy, no wan “lyrical abstractionist” emitting oh-goodies at every gift of acrylic paint, and this may be clouding (or overlighting) my judgment. In this pick-up show at Nick Wilder’s, including wildly different paintings, in different sizes, from different sources, there’s a transition from his earlier, luscious primary-and-candy color bars to a more capricious “shapy” (shapes surrounded by a single color) format, suggestive of both Matisse and Ray Parker; the color now “clashes” instead of making Hofmannesque “chords” and there’s a general funkiness, especially the paw-print speckling of the backgrounds in these pictures. The best things are two big horizontal paintings added to “beef up” the show and which, in fact, make it. The first is about six by ten feet, on a dabbled olive background; on the left is a weird “Bullwinkle” shape in citron and on the right a couple of diagonal bars in light blue-green and pink. The color-surface clash (are these shapes objects, and, if so, where the hell are they relative to the surface?) is intense and fascinating. The second is even more daring, a picture six feet high and twice as long on a margined backdrop of ochre “linoleum,” in which a yellow “wing” with a pink adjunct on the right effects an incredible gap with some dark blue and green bars on the left; due to the proportions of the picture and the gallery (narrow), the contrast takes place in almost peripheral vision and is a peculiar, gaily disturbing thing to see.

Peter Plagens