Los Angeles

Leonard Koscianski

Karl Bornstein Gallery

Sleek snarling dogs race through the conceptualized landscapes of Leonard Koscianski, turning an airless, tense atmosphere into an arena of unleashed violence. His are images that recurrent nightmares are made of; time is suspended and we live within the terror of the dream, which rushes again and again across our field of vision. Koscianski’s flawless old-master technique, displaying careful glazing and highlighting over a darkened ground, recalls the hypnotic clarity of Renaissance painting. His canvases shine from their depths as light is trapped between layers of pigment, an effect reminiscent of but more translucent and finely detailed than one found in the work of Edward Hopper. There is also something here to remind us of Grant Wood’s scale-model world of houses, trees, and small-town streets illuminated by sharp unnatural light, which lends to each object a stark yet softened clarity.

So relentlessly has Koscianski played out a long cycle of pursuit and capture in these recent paintings that one must conclude that his imagery is more than a narrative invented as a foil for a display of his virtuosity. The pack of vicious dogs, the houses, and frightened pigs occur again and again throughout the work. Individual members of the pack closely resemble each other; are they identical, or related? Pursuit, flight, and violent capture are underscored by carefully plotted vanishing lines. Everything rushes toward a dramatic narrative and spatial climax. These are powerful and beautiful paintings of a kind rarely seen in Los Angeles or elsewhere. Their ability to hold the viewer captive, and to linger in the mind, is an indication of this young painter’s forceful vision.

Susan C. Larsen