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THE ART GALLERIES

Santa Monica

September 25, 1987|Marlena Donohue

Ruth Bachofner Gallery inaugurates a new space with a show of paintings by Selina Trieff, a New York artist making a mid-career debut on the West Coast. Her works are strange enough to illicit discomfort but they resist our first strong inclination to dismiss them as just more figuration run amok. There is a tenacious vision behind these utterly weird paintings that invites a second and perhaps third reading.

Trieff's palette runs from all-black in the macabre "Standing With Pigs" to roadside art-sale neon in "The Goat," depicting--you got it--a big-eared, king-sized Hallmark card Nativity creature. Luckily, animals are secondary to Trieff's main subjects: androgynous medieval monks who stare out at us from robes and bonnets with self-righteous decadence. These strange fellows have slightly pointed ears and piggish snouts like the images of the damned on 12th-Century tympanums. The entire oeuvre would be no more than comedic if not for the artist's capacity for modeling hollow-eyed figures that leave us wondering what she could possibly have in mind. (Ruth Bachofner Gallery, 926 Colorado Ave., to Oct. 24.)

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