los-angeles

Tom Knechtel

Rosamund Felsen Gallery

Composed with an ardor that masquerades as cool dispassion, Tom Knechtel’s new multipaneled paintings are luxuriant, operatic scenarios of love and yearning. Along with the large pastel and conté “portraits” of animals shown here, these paintings portray a phantasmagoric netherworld that at first appears cacophonous but is ultimately compositionally as well as emotionally resolved; these tales of gay eroticism are driven in equal parts by reason and desire.

Although the two large paintings—Servant of Two Masters 1993–94, and The Flood, 1993–94—are not composed with the grand rhetorical gestures of Abstract Expressionism, they have a theatricality and self-confidence that vies with the aggressive “presence” of a work by Jackson Pollock or Franz Kline. But the elaborately detailed, meticulously rendered, jewellike surfaces of Knechtel’s pictures, heaped with riotous, swirling clouds of flora,

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