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THE ART GALLERIES

La Cienega Area

June 06, 1986|COLIN GARDNER

Like many painters of her generation, Dorothy Gillespie made the step from portraiture to abstraction in the 1950s, developing a restrained, gestural style notable for its use of elided hexagonal shapes. Since then, the New York-based Gillespie has absorbed a wide variety of influences--De Stijl geometry, the optimism of Pop and Op, and the push-pull aesthetic of Hans Hofmann--and applied them to a fusion of painting and sculpture notable for its bright, gaudy colors and busy, kinetic surfaces.

In her latest exhibit of wall and free-standing sculptural constructions, Gillespie has begun to expand her usual cascades of curled strips of painted, cut aluminum to include ink-on-paper collage, subduing brash color and metallic texture to create softer, more meditative pieces, synthesizing hard edge with the more pliable plasticity usually associated with origami.

Gillespie's main weaknesses are still in evidence, however. Her predilection for the decorative and the disguising of overly simple structure through agitated surfaces and expressionistic use of color become all the more glaring given the generally repetitive nature of her composition. The free-standing aluminum sculptures, with their snaking spirals and graceful, wavelike contours, work better because of their formal economy, but there is still a strong sense of aesthetic recycling. Although it's quite common (if not critically advantageous) for artists to work one idea through several permutations and media, it's increasingly obvious that Gillespie has exhausted this particular set of structural parameters. (Gallery West, 107 S. Robertson Blvd., to July 5.)

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