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THE ART GALLERIES

The Valley

May 16, 1986|COLIN GARDNER

Using nature as a metaphor, Lee Musgrave expresses the light and dark dualities of human existence. While earlier work focused on the relationship between nature and technology, Musgrave has more recently concentrated specifically on dichotomies of the human spirit, a Jungian world of surface ego and shadow archetype symbolized by a frolicking dance between the ominous raven and the foolish chimera.

Musgrave's mining of the collective unconscious as a mode of spiritual transcendence is all well and good, but he blunts the edge of his vision by rooting the work in unabashed sentimentality and decoration. Employing Kanemitsu-like washes of purple and orange sfumato , as well as obvious juxtapositions of gesture and geometry, Musgrave presents an overly simplistic and accessible context for a treatise that requires both conceptual teeth and structural complexity.

Although they hardly aspire to the same intellectual pretensions, Judy Brakey's fiber landscapes suffer from similar problems. Working on a very small scale, Brakey weaves tightly compacted colored fibers to form impressionistic tapestries resembling fields of flowers set against undulating backdrops. Neither an examination of landscape vocabulary nor a resonant juxtaposition of subject and materials, the work comes across as insipid patterning, suffocated by cloying titles such as "Abounding love of little things." (Orlando Gallery, 14553 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, to May 30.)

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