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The Art Galleries

Wilshire Center

September 18, 1987|CATHY CURTIS

L.A. artist Pamela Goldblum has taken a fancy to a wispy little image that she coaxes into an array of media in sculpture, monoprints and paintings. The star is a winsomely bruised cartoonlike woman's face, the sort apt to turn up on a trendy rhinestone-ornamented sweatshirt.

Goldblum paints her on a triangular piece of cloth sewn together to cap a sturdy twig "planted" in a cement cube. These pieces come in varying heights, with twigs that evidence different degrees of pruning (those with larger vestigial branch bumps suggesting the figure's powerless, "emasculated" condition).

In some of the monoprints, the face is accompanied by shapeless, winking-eyed animals, or an ambulatory paper bag-like creature, or floating objects (an alarm clock, a bell jar). The face has an alter ego, too, a Theda Bara-like character with sultry, dark-rimmed eyes.

Although these images veer uncomfortably close to cuddly cliche status, they gather a curious force when viewed in sequence, rather like the fragile performance of a mime. How else to account for the tiny shock of seeing the familiar potted twig topped with a featureless ball swathed in black cloth, as if the face had died? The painting and monoprint on the same theme exist at a coolly neutral distance, however, offering no emotional charge. (Turske & Whitney Gallery, 962 N. La Brea Ave., to Oct. 13.)

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