New York

Lynton Wells

Holly Solomon Gallery

LYNTON WELLS is probably best known for sophisticated treatments of photographic images on canvas, but at the end of the ’70s he turned his attention to traditions of painting, focusing on landscape. His recent works are humorous versions of the academic mythological landscapes. Untitled, 1980, recalls the Old Masters in several ways; its monumental dimensions, 88 by 107 inches are typical of the so-called academic machine; the ambiguous female nude (is she human or statue?), with her upper torso disappearing into the surrounding lush landscape, brings to mind the theme of metamorphosis; the detailed depiction of leaves and trees recalls Rubens, Lorrain, Bouguereau. Wells, however, parts company with his predecessors over style and technique. His surfaces range from flat to full-bodied relief, the foliage is so richly textured, that it looks like cake icing. His colors border on the garish: all screaming reds, purples and greens. Interestingly, where pre-modernist painters aimed at achieving a degree of realism approaching the photographic, Wells, a specialist on the role of photography in modernist painting, prefers now to practice instead a painterly caricature of an old-time style.

Ronny H. Cohen