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THE ART GALLERIES

Wilshire District

September 25, 1987|Cathy Curtis

A meeting of two curves in a sculpture by Gregory Mahoney has an unexpected sensuality. Who would think that an expanse of black-painted steel bumping up against a stretch of gray-painted pine would set off such sparks?

"Eclipsed Reflection" is one of the L.A. artist's recent moon-and-landscape-based geometric studies. Spare in outline, limited in hue, textured in a tight repertoire of special effects (the marbleized look of rusting steel, the contrast of irregular wood grain and the threaded, "industrial" surface of treated steel), these pieces appear to depend heavily on the resonance of their nature imagery.

For this viewer, that's precisely the level on which Mahoney's sculptures don't work. The naked, banal look of white cement is a disappointing stand-in for the moon. But even rendered in a matte, streaked blue or silver or scarred with particles of rust, these half-circles and crescents offer prose in place of poetry.

As elegantly restrained and impeccably tuned exercises in pure form, however, several of the new pieces offer quiet thrills. (Burnett Miller Gallery, 964 N. La Brea Ave., to Oct. 16.)

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