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THE ART GALLERIES

Venice

July 10, 1987|KRISTINE McKENNA

Paintings by Brazilian artist Sylvia Martins would make nifty album covers for tacky K-Tel compilations of '50's be-bop music. Her work positively reeks of the endearingly kitsch modernism of the "I Like Ike" decade; surrounded by the 10 oil-on-canvas works on view here, you expect a bearded guy in a beret to stalk into the room reciting "Howl."

Essentially a primitive folk aesthetic filtered through a Cubist scrim, Martins' style is built around organic forms with an undercurrent of benign sexuality (Freud, one recalls, was all the rage in the postwar era of babies and beatniks); titles like "Voodoo Painting" and "Hypnotic Cat" give you an idea of the sort of mysterious sensuality Martins' attempts to convey in her work. Employing the strangely nauseating palette of black, peach and aqua peculiar to a certain school of '50s abstraction, her work is basically a retread of ideas hammered out by Joan Miro and Stuart Davis, among others. Defiantly unoriginal--and more than a little ugly--her pictures heave the enervated sigh of ennui that whispers "this is Post-Modernism." (Piezo Electric, 21 Market St., to July 19).

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