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THE ART GALLERIES

Wilshire Center

October 02, 1987|CATHY CURTIS

Classicists tend to age well, and Helen Lundeberg, who'll be 80 next year, is no exception. The painter has kept a strict hand on her wiry, tensile geometries, obliging the romantic side of landscape--her big subject--to yield before the higher power of pure form.

In a show of Lundeberg's work spanning more than 40 years, with the emphasis on the last two decades, her astringent use of flat blocks and irregular stripes of color only occasionally seems to break down into formula or be overruled by the high-pitched pastels she sometimes favors.

"Desert Light" (1964) is one of the finest pieces on view, so simple and yet so minutely organized, down to the lopped-off corner of one of the twin aqua-and-peach-colored shapes that suggest glimpses of sea and sand from the shadowy interior of a Casbah. In "Marina" (1961), turquoise forms reminiscent of Ellsworth Kelly's paintings sit in precise configurations on a deep olive ground, somehow doing duty as land masses as well as ineffable shapes.

In the mid-'60s, Lundeberg switched from oil to acrylic paint. Coupled with her subsequent preference for pastels, the later work has a less substantial feel, despite ever-strict calibrations of the curve and bulk of each swath of color. (Tobey C. Moss Gallery, 7321 Beverly Blvd., to Nov. 7.)

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