Like an iced beverage on a hot afternoon, the pleasures afforded by Susan Clover's paintings are immediate and simple. Realist renderings of well-heeled Americans at recreation by bodies of water, her sensual pictures fairly reek of Coppertone and convey a palpable sense of the sting of saltwater drying the skin.
Like D. J. Hall, who paints with a remarkably similar touch, Clover refrains from editorializing about the realm of luxury and leisure that she depicts, preferring to serve up straightforward vignettes of a physicality so pampered, ripe and drowsy that it's nearly narcotic. We see a pair of giggling, bikini-clad schoolgirls exchanging secrets by a swimming pool, a man and woman moving silently through a lake, a woman reclining in a secluded tidepool that opens onto the sea.
Clover is impressively specific as to weather and time--you get a strong sense of the sun's position in the sky and the temperature of the air in each of her pictures. The glory of nature, however, is not the central issue here. Like the hunt scenes so popular in the 18th Century, her work is a testament to man's ability to buffer himself--if only temporarily--from the harsher realities of life.
Also on view are brightly painted wall sculptures by Jean Berg. Made of rippling acrylic strips interwoven and fastened together with screws, the work looks like Paris' Pompidou Centre, which is to say self-consciously modern. More successful are two small-framed studies for larger works; they bristle with a Kandinsky-esque verve that's missing in those ungainly acrylic extravaganzas. (Orlando Gallery, 14553 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, to June 30.)