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THE ART GALLERIES

Santa Monica

September 25, 1987|Marlena Donohue

James Ford last exhibited crusty cement and tile totems. He returns with a streamlined vocabulary built on the shape of a half-sphere. He stations a sequence of three massive three-dimensional hemispheres on the gallery floor, scales down the size and perches a similar series on a wood shelf, or lets the shape stand starkly alone.

This looks like dated Minimalism except that Ford uses high-tech, high-fashion materials like terrazzo, copper on steel or cast glass. They send messages of coffee-table fixtures made to complement expensive Italian furniture.

He also builds in--sometimes effectively--symbolic reverberations. The hemisphere is often accompanied by a funnel shape so it alludes to some archetypal sacrificial crucible. It isn't clear whether Ford successfully welds all these more or less mutually exclusive aesthetics or if these are just smooth, pretty round things that are easy on the eyes.

Also shown are paintings on paper by Sabina Ott. She divides paper works into narrative juxtapositions that depict such things as a dark dagger floating above a washy forest knoll. Smaller-scale and looser, more intimate draftsmanship seems to lend these works an accessibility and directness not always felt in her dark, heavily worked canvases. (Pence Gallery, 908 Colorado Ave., to Oct. 31.)

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