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THE ART GALLERIES

Downtown

June 20, 1986|COLIN GARDNER

If Hans Arp had ever lived among the Pueblo Indians and produced Native American artifacts, the results might have resembled John Lawrence's alabaster and clay sculptures. Based in the San Bernardino area, Lawrence seems at first sight to be a traditional ceramist with an eye for abstract formalism, but his stately renditions of Indian men and women quickly take on a more organic quality, merging Arp's gourd-like biomorphism and smooth contours with the rugged stolidity usually associated with folk art.

While Lawrence occasionally slips into sentimentality, he eschews the facile decoration usually associated with the genre and manages to explore the stylistic antinomies of his hybrid with both muscular energy and quiet restraint.

In contrast, David Williams' photographic diptychs seem facile and structurally confused. Working in combinations of both black and white and color, Williams juxtaposes contrasting images to explore formal and symbolic relationships. Bare torsos are paired with geometric shapes and volumes, rocks with dense vegetation, a vertical marble column with video static to create simple dialectics that rarely transcend the sum of their parts. More importantly, Williams fails to imbue his images with any sense of textural or plastic resonance, leaving us with a series of variations on a rather arbitrary and vapid conceptual theme. (Diodati, 4361 West 3rd St., to July 31.)

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