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The Art Galleries

Santa Monica

September 18, 1987|COLIN GARDNER

Film maker David Lynch ("Eraserhead," "Blue Velvet") makes his gallery debut with a series of black-and-white chalk-on-paper drawings that feature amorphous floating and falling shapes against nebulous, enigmatic backgrounds.

Rendered in murky chiaroscuro, Lynch's array of ominous clouds, "smoking" geometric shapes and soft-edged abstractions appear at first glance to draw upon the surrealist sensibility of Yves Tanguy and faux naif idiosyncratic rhythms of Paul Klee. On closer examination, however, the work defies easy categorization, largely because of an apparent discrepancy between Lynch's irrational subconscious vision and his ability to execute it.

The drawings exude a distinct tentativeness in draftsmanship that paradoxically serves to heighten their impact. Rather than exploit a well-rehearsed vocabulary of signs and symbols, each work instead seems to be feeling its way as it unfolds, unsure whether to crowd compositional space here or let it breathe there.

The results are both comfortably benign and faintly mysterious, superficially accessible yet ultimately closed off as profound archetypal statements. As Lynch develops, it remains to be seen whether a more assured formal touch robs his work of its elusiveness or rather cements a visual sensibility already well known for its bravura guignol . (James Corcoran Gallery, 1327 5th St., to Oct. 8.)

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