Los Angeles

Janice Lowry

Art Space

Janice Lowry’s massive constructed paintings hold beguiling lures carefully chosen to establish an atmosphere of domestic intimacy, childhood revery, and spontaneity, a mood akin to that of the best American folk art. The jagged, rough-cut fish, small animals, dolls, and wooden ladders that appear again and again in her work might divert and undermine her drawing were it not for the vital sense of scale that puts her brightly colored three-dimensional environments back together again. Large, flattened, translucent human figures occupy these angular rooms, intent on their own activities. In The Deal, 1983, for example, the couple seated across from each other are surrounded by brightly painted walls, smaller shadowy figures, and decorative passages of woodwork; as confident within the format as the figures in an early Renaissance altarpiece, they go on with their discussion, settling into the painted environment with ease and assurance.

Lowry’s work is almost entirely free of the dark, obsessive solipsism so often associated with assemblage. She chooses objects for their pictorial and formal value and to suit the purposes of her narrative. Individual items may attract one’s attention, but they do not upstage Lowry’s cast of characters. She speaks of rites of passage, of voyages both geographic and psychological; thinly disguised threads of autobiography are tenderly and deftly woven in. Lowry is an artist who chooses to let a great deal into her work, but like a good innkeeper she promotes moments of pleasure and revery amid order and vitality.

Susan C. Larsen