Los Angeles

Robert Therrien

Ruth S. Schaffner Gallery

My first reaction to Robert Therrien’s paintings was that I had stumbled on an exhibit of Polynesian or American Indian artifacts: shields, pictographs, sled runners, and canoe outriggers. But after a minute or two the artifacts began to look wrong. The shields were too Gothic and too big. The circular pictographs contained no pictures. The runners and outriggers never would have worked. Yet even after realizing that these objects were produced as art in downtown Los Angeles in the 1970s, it’s hard to erase the impression that they once served a functional purpose in a primitive society.

Therrien’s second one-man show consisted of ten paintings and one drawing from the past four years. The paintings fall into three groups, arches, discs, and what Therrien calls “long pieces.” The three monochromatic, 8-foot wood arches framed in heavy timber are the newest and most arresting. Because of

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