New York

Gary Bower

Max Protetch

GARY BOWER’s paintings are also cliché-ridden, but it is not so certain that he knows it. Or if he does know it, it is not certain that he understands the implications of such knowledge.

His work has an eclectic look: it is a mixture of figurative elements, gestural marks and hard-edged geometries. His paintings are very bright and cheery, untroubled. Figures and shapes seem to be present merely to give form to areas of paint, not because of any meaning they might have. In fact, paint itself seems to be the main issue, an issue only thinly disguised with a coating of expressionist Pop which looks very much like the product of a provincial art school.

What is wrong is the pretentiousness of Bower’s juxtapositions, the marshalling of a great deal of machinery for little purpose. Which is a shame, for when he scales down his ambition he proves to be an able painter. His small studies, mainly of a woman’s back as she dresses her hair in front of a mirror, are quite charming. And one painting in this show, of a tightrope walker under a circus tent, is as effective as it is simple. The play of color and form is attractive, as is the quick, assured brushwork. This is a painting aimed to please, unembarrassed by any intellectual conceit.

Thomas Lawson