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THE ART GALLERIES

September 11, 1987|CATHY CURTIS

Peter Lodato's brand of spatial mystery tends to strike this viewer as much ado about nothing. In recent paintings, his obsession is with single rooms punctuated by open doorways, through which are visible rectangles of brown earth and blue sky. Inside, light from visible and unseen sources creates pristine, geometric shadows.

Variations on the theme are tortuously spare. In "Tres Marias," a sort of yellow chair-rail running around the walls, lines up exactly with the horizon, as if light from the setting sun had seeped inside along a secret track. "Taukin" has a fairly complex series of overlapping shadows that lend a portion of the floor the appearance of a glassy pool.

A group of watercolors bloodlessly explores other variants of the topless-room theme. Some are optical illusion set pieces. "Pinwheel" vaguely teases the viewer with thoughts of what a diamond-shaped aerial view of a room with four symmetrically-placed doorways would look like if twirled on a spindle. Modest in scale, the watercolors at least offer proportionate charms. But the big square painted rooms--so stripped-down and sterile, they beg to be taken for ophisticated "statements"--work neither as conceptual conundrums nor as sensual fancies. (Krygier/Landau Contemporary Art, 7416 Beverly Blvd., to Sept. 30.)

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