Every summer, L.A. Louver gallery presents a two-part exhibition of American and European painting, drawing and sculpture that attempts to articulate a dialogue between form and content that transcends national boundaries as well as specific media. In an era where overt mannerism and stylistic pluralism have become ingrained dogma, however, such a broad thesis has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, leaving us with an uninsightful statement of the obvious.
Despite this flaccid curatorial premise, the shows do allow us to see gallery artists in a broader context, and often turn up rarely seen gems, exemplified in Part I of this year's survey by Australian-based painter, John Walker. Part II focuses more specifically on emerging British artists, as well as American painters outside the gallery's usual fold. The results are largely disappointing, indicating both a dearth of original ideas and a dangerous tendency towards formula academicism.
The British are particularly guilty of the latter. Charlotte Verity's "Glass, Shells" is a Morandi-like still life that boils down to a mere exercise in light and composition, while Therese Oulton's stickily impastoed swirl of kinetic pigment apes the animated "impressionism" of Turner's "Steamship in a Snowstorm." Similarly John Lessore's "The Ageing Process" depicts an anatomy class in such a washed-out, lifeless palette as to seem more concerned with burying art historical precedents than taking the genre into new territories.