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THE ART GALLERIES

La Cienega Area

June 20, 1986|WILLIAM WILSON

Joan Oppenheimer materializes with eight large, untitled paintings called "The Water Series." Before even reacting to this work one is assailed by the realization that the surface of pond, pool and puddle has become a popular contemporary motif in the work of everybody from David Hockney to Jennifer Bartlett.

That is probably because painted water sits right on the border between abstraction and representation and is therefore a something-for-everybody subject that should incite suspicion on sight.

Oppenheimer's version of this universally soothing motif tends to tacky application and murky color that speak of hesitation and brooding despite broadly conceived formats. The impression of tentativeness and irresolution is reinforced by awkwardly tricky moves in the show. The sound of lapping surf is broadcast over loudspeakers. Globe-shaped fishbowls sit on the counter with real fish therein. On the floor in front of one picture rests a toy frog. The environmental jokes don't match the style of the painting or go far enough to assert themselves independently. They say only one thing, "Amateur Hour, folks." (Jeffrey Linden Gallery, 625 N. Almont Drive, to June 28.)

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