New York

DeLoss McGraw

DeLoss McGraw, a San Diego–area artist, presents ardent fantasies about everyday reality. In his recent show “California Gothic,” McGraw spins tales of life in a cul-de-sac—his own slightly altered version of those residential neighborhoods to which there is only one entrance. Del Mar Heights and Walnut Creek, like other places cited in the titles, are the names of two of the many communities of this sort in the state. Using the form of these neighborhoods as a figure of enclosure, McGraw weaves together themes of magic and mystery.

McGraw’s cul-de-sacs are paradaisical places where love blooms and angels wish to tread. The ornate and boldly simplified representations simultaneously recall late-Medieval painting and American folk art. La Jolla—her blondness protects the home, 1993, demonstrates how McGraw uses form to convey feeling. With her gentle curves and tilted torso, this blond woman stands Out against a flamboyant abstracted landscape dominated by golden tones, wrapping the house she holds in her own towering, graceful figure.

Solana Beach—California man protected by the red algae, 1993, and Hidden Meadows—cul-de-sac angel protects the village, 1993, both give the themes of security and guardianship symbolic weight. Another piece, one of the works on paper, Del Mar Heights—a little mysterious painting—he reads and she is gothicized in her flame-designed clothes, 1993, demonstrates how the narrative appeal of his compositions is largely dependent on a textural handling of materials like gouache, watercolor, and graphite. McGraw’s brushwork becomes quasi iconographic thanks to his recognition of the importance of the decorative in producing convincing expression.

Ronny Cohen