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Art Review : Babeor Gallery Offers 2 Colorful Exhibitions

April 07, 1987|ROBERT McDONALD

LA JOLLA — The Thomas Babeor Gallery (7470 Girard Ave.) is greeting spring with two colorful, celebratory exhibitions.

The new paintings featured in Los Angeles artist Ann Thornycroft's solo show in Babeor's front gallery are no less challenging as works of art for being beautiful. They vary, however, in the degrees of success of their realization.

Thornycroft bases most of her paintings on a grid of foot-square units, six vertical and five horizontal, lightly penciled on primed canvas. Then, she applies a full palette of oil pigments and veils of thinned white or pale blue washes.

In "Lakshmi," she repeats a pattern of stacked quarter-circles that respect and reinforce the grid, then arbitrarily adds veils of thinned white pigment that ignore and violate it. It is a very beautiful painting that engages you as much in the enjoyment of its process as of its sensuality.

However, the paintings "Sanctuario" and "Kona," both built on the same sort of structure, fail. In them the artist first laid down lusciously colored free-form shapes across the penciled grid. Then she added a veil of wash over a group of contiguous squares. This tactic weakly reinforces the presence of the grid, creating an effect like transparent fabric stretched across part of the canvas. The sinuous forms underneath read through it dully as shadows. The result is visual flaccidity.

Thornycroft succeeds magnificently, however, in "Interior" and "Blue Falls," whose penciled grids are nearly buried beneath multitudes of narrow, irregular vertical veils in a rainbow palette.

They are sensational--fascinating to study and as seductive as the veils of Salome.

Among a dozen watercolors included in the exhibition, three related to "Lakshmi" reflect its strength and beauty.

The works in a second, group show, "Flowers," in Babeor's back gallery range from two early (1964), traditional--but, oh, so magical!--still lifes by Martha Alf to a sinister "Bomb Bud Cluster" in cast steel and glass by Christopher Lee. Also on view are two very delicate, realistic drawings by Robin Bright, a consummate and versatile artist who has been much admired by connoisseurs for his minimalist white paintings. A pair of "Fleurs Sauvages" by Barbara Weldon and a group of watercolor irises by Billy Al Bengston represent artists long associated with Babeor.

New to the gallery, however, are the works of Los Angeles artist Joanne Julian, two monotypes and a large drawing in colored pencil. The beautiful flower forms convey a sense of the physical and emotional energy that Julian consecrates to her work.

The exhibitions continue through April 25.

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