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La Cienega Area

December 11, 1987|SUZANNE MUCHNIC

John Buck's art is chiseled from wood, cast in bronze, printed from woodblocks and painted on canvas but it has the quality of primitive pictographs that convey cosmic visions. Bearing down on outlines and hacking out rough surfaces, the Montana sculptor creates towering, archetypal figures, along with globes, trees, fans, arcs, skulls and other forms that seem universal but retain an aura of mystery.

In a current show of massive wood and bronze sculptures--sometimes backed up by unstretched canvases--we find headless figures shouldering whole worlds or precariously balanced wooden constructions. It's a perplexing sight: humankind stripped of its brain power but carrying vestiges of power. No clear statement comes through, however, and it may be just as well, for Buck's strength is his imaginative merger of pictorial clarity and dream-like elusiveness. He seems to speak of man's central place in the world while providing an escape from mundane responsibilities.

Buck doesn't fit precisely into any school, though he has obvious ties to the visionary aspects of Surrealism and the primitive instincts of Expressionism. He comes off as an idiosyncratic loner whose work is refreshing because it insists on the possibility of art as the peculiarly personal revelation of an inspired woodsman. (Asher-Faure, 612 N. Almont Drive, to Jan. 9.)

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