Los Angeles

Diane Buckler

Krygier/Landau Contemporary Art

Black Absolute, Emerald Pearl, and Red Rose: these are some names of types of granite on which Diane Buckler’s apparitionlike, floating images seem to be delicately etched. (Actually, they’re sandblasted into a photographic emulsion placed against the rectangular, picture-sized chunks of reddish or black polished stone.) Buckler’s unmoored, tilting, and levitating representations of classical statues and retiring nudes, her aerial views of cities and stone cherubs, are presented in gently tumbling, loosened hierarchies buffered by lots of red or black voidlike space. These works have an expansive, nocturnal feel because of how strongly the black granite resembles a section of night sky flecked with stars. They might call to mind the gently swirling presleep thoughts of some drowsing art historian, a dreamy synthesis of pictures she has pored over all day. The image fragments look both weightless, because they appear to be flying and are almost transparent, and weighty, because most of the images are of classical European sculptures, which are ponderous both in historical dominance and actual poundage.

Sometimes Buckler mixes antique images with more contemporary ones, causing old and new to rub shoulders, reflect on each other, and perhaps clash a little. In Aspiration, Divergence and Repose (all works 1989), two slightly tilted niche figures hover at different levels above a prone contemporary female nude. In The Introversion of the Niche Figure, two architectural flourishes appear above and below a contemplative standing female nude. The flourishes serve as her ornate doorsill and lintel, as though she were a door leading into some new territory. They make her seem bracketed by the past, about to cross its threshold. Affinities and contrasts between mediums and images reverberate quietly within individual works and from piece to piece. The relationships between stone and flesh figures, and between photographic and granite surfaces, bring up issues of what’s durable and what’s ephemeral, both as image (goddess, model, temple) and as material (paper, photo-chemicals, stone).

Buckler plays with inconsistency of scale in pieces like Gravity, Levity and the Inescapable, in which a pair of almost life-size hands and feet hover at the top of the work, while a small Parthenon lists to one side below. The piece gives the impression that some ghostly, perhaps dismembered beings are becalmed in the sky above the little building; it suggests myths about the origins of the constellations. Divine Benevolence is a haunting and somewhat humorous work that also pits bizarrely sized images against each other. In it, a giant nude male statue appears on the horizon of a dwarfed pastoral landscape, as though he were some kind of lumbering King Kong, lording over both the land at his feet and art history itself. Many of Buckler’s pieces convey a cool, melancholy air of lost utopias, as though symbols commonly thought to represent Western culture’s eroding ideas of civilization or beauty had grown incredibly light and begun to drift aloft and away.

Amy Gerstler