Mark Lipscomb seems to equate an uneasy state of mind with physical upset. The figures in his large oils are likely to be upside-down or so skewed that they don't seem connected to the space they occupy. Often that's because we look at scenes from an odd angle, peering down into an enclave of "Men Smoking," a nude man teetering on a chair at the edge of a balcony, or a pair of joggers approaching each other on a winding path. These--and about a dozen others--are strange paintings that occasionally turn bizarre, as when we encounter a couple of gluttons "Eating the Landscape."
Lipscomb is good at inventing vertiginous space and evoking the higgledy-piggledy aspects of Southern California's pink-and-green landscape, but his handling of figures seems confused. Most of the people resemble distorted statuary--mute, inexpressive types who are either in a trance-like state or oblivious to their surroundings. That idea could work but it seems to run contrary to Lipscomb's intention in "psychological narratives" said to offer "a penetrating vision of the figure interacting within his environment."
The pictures are meant to be troubling, but we end up wondering what the artist meant to convey instead of grappling with psychological tension. Still, this is intriguing new work that stands a good chance of shaping up over time. (Fahey/Klein Gallery, 148 N. La Brea Ave., to Jan 23.