Los Angeles

Lecia Dole-Recio

Richard Telles Fine Art

Lecia Dole-Recio’s loosely constructivist works on paper and vellum have long demonstrated her deftness at mixing gesture and structure in measured and unpretentious ways. Patterning line and shadow from tactical cuts, cardboard shapes, hand-drawn details, and heavy washes of pastel, fluoresecent, or metallic gouache, the Los Angeles–based artist has cultivated a trademark abstraction that seems poised some- where between the cohesive surfaces of hard-edge painting, the hasty marks of expressionism, and the shifting planes of collage. While Dole-Recio’s fourth solo exhibition at Richard Telles Fine Art builds upon this familiar style, it more notably introduces an unanticipated approach into the artist’s practice; in six of the eleven works on view, the artist foregoes mixed media for paint alone, a move that may happily complicate an increasingly recognizable body of formalist work.

As if proposing rhetorical questions about the look and limits of painting, Dole-Recio installed her new canvases in considered relation to her traditional collages. Perhaps the strongest pairing was that of Untitled (cppr.bl.lnn) with Untitled (bl.ppr.rd.crd.lns.) (all works 2008). Hung almost as a diptych in the main gallery, these relatively smaller works—each around twenty-six by twenty inches—share a palette of navy blue, salmon, and orange, with swatches of russet and cerulean, and have similar compositions of bold diagonal stripes. In the latter work, these stripes protrude and recede, since some are painted over, and at angles slightly askew to, barlike excisions in a layer of cardboard affixed to the surface. While the works’ fluctuating depth is perceptible, the high-contrast colors make the multiple grounds difficult to differentiate, requiring careful shifts in vision. Untitled (cppr.bl.lnn) is similarly invested in compound picture planes, but unlike the collaged work this acrylic on linen has an identifiable background and foreground. An underpainting of gingery orange supports a dominant arrangement of dark, overlapping rectangles. Still, there is a certain amount of ambiguity and blending; Dole-Recio has painted over segments of the geometric pattern in orange shades slightly lighter than the underpainting. The pattern’s dark edges remain perceptible through the brushstrokes, the various marks appearing to consume one another.

While Dole-Recio’s mixed-media pieces are structurally nuanced, her paintings are strikingly flat. The disorienting deep space that makes the former so alluringly complex has in the latter been collapsed; the shift might prove fruitful, but the first efforts appear staid and very much in progress. Untitled (slvr.slvr.lnn.)—an almost analytical cubist array rendered in translucent and metallic grisaille—evinces the artist’s newfound experimentation with using purely acrylic; while the piece’s most compelling details, such as exposed sections of unprimed canvas and silvery accents that catch light, playfully dabble in painted effects, the piece as a whole seems tentative or restrained. It is missing the polished laxity of Dole-Recio’s usual materials (strategically visible tape, Polaroid snapshots glued to cardboard) as well as the dimensional illusions that they efficiently construct.

Dole-Recio has always been concerned with the idea of painting, and in many ways her multifaceted work has delightfully muddied any conception of painting as autonomous; it remains to be seen, however, whether her new, more conventional canvases can (or should) operate as an extension, or perhaps even a reversal, of her provocations. After all, her other works already simulate the conventions of painted “picture making” (in their surfaces framed by negative space, for example, or their shading crafted from paper). That Dole-Recio’s new paintings might act as representations or even imitations of her typical processes is one dramatic possibility for these nascent works.

Catherine Taft