• Laddie John Dill

    James Corcoran Gallery

    I suspect that the esthetic emotions elicited by Laddie John Dill’s rugged new abstract paintings have something in common with the feelings aroused in the bosom of the educated 18th-century traveller face to face with a “sublime” natural vista such as a raging storm, a bottomless gorge, or a majestic mountain range. Not that one requires a Longinian taste for the awesome in nature to appreciate Dill’s recent work; it suffices to be sensible to epic aspirations in painting—the scale, for example, of Clyfford Still, or the craggy forms of Motherwell, or the incontinently energetic surfaces of

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  • Robert Irwin

    Mizuno Gallery

    If Dill’s work is a challenge thrown in the teeth of prevailing taste, Robert Irwin’s most recent installation can be seen, oxymoronically, as the bodiless incarnation of that taste. Eschewing the beleaguered object, he chooses instead to control a corner of the environment, and thereby to invite the viewer’s perception of disembodied space and light. Mizuno’s relatively small exhibition space, a spare, high-ceilinged room with parquet flooring and, most notably, two very long, very narrow skylights, is Irwin’s prim stage; his ascetic materials are a roll of three-quarter-inch width black tape,

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  • “The Sky Show”

    Otis Art Gallery

    In former times, an emblem for the seraphic mood of Irwin’s room might well have been a horizonless depiction of calm sky. But the heavens are no longer an unequivocal symbol for the spiritual state: “upper air” also means sinister outer space, and heaven, these days, is mostly in, down, or out. Nevertheless, the sky has never forfeited its position as the locus of a brilliant variety of ephemeral events; for those who charmingly refuse to discern any fault in the pathetic fallacy, it is still the scene for discovering symbolic expression of human states of mind: and, if the sky is no longer a

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  • Alexis Smith

    UC Santa Barbara Art Galleries

    For those familiar with Alexis Smith’s recent narrative-collage pieces (her Madame Butterfly, one of the better inclusions of the “Visual/Verbal” show at UC Santa Barbara, had previously been exhibited in last year’s Whitney Biennial), her environment title—Rapido—aroused pleasant expectations of a richly allusive experience replete with savory references, no doubt, to some or many of those romantic, tragic, or, at the very least, mysterious train rides of fiction and film: perhaps to that fast-moving Warsaw train hurtling toward St. Petersburg one prerevolutionary November morning with Prince

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