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Hollywood

January 29, 1988|MARLENA DONOHUE

When an artist changes styles and artistic personas as easily as his socks, the work is often called "unresolved." We like those signature styles we can hang our hats on. The young L.A. artist Peter Zokowsky proves that with sufficient technical virtuosity and a bold enough philosophic base you can pull off a kind of painterly schizophrenia that permits in one artistic breath a crude, endearing monkey and a grieving, American folk-style Jackie Kennedy, and in the next a billowy landscape of flora and fauna rendered in the sharp, moist realism of the best romantic tradition.

His debut show of cows and clouds linked him with the 19th-Century landscapists. In this exhibition, visually compact historical documents like "The Bay of Pigs," "John Kennedy in Death" and "Dallas, November 22, 1963" mark Zokowsky as a defier of labels who is very much of his own time. "November 22" chronicles in dry brushy outlines the city of Dallas seen from above: first the exuberant motorcade, then a tiny figure mortally wounded, the hospital scene and the infamous movie house. The piece is done in the quick-sketch style of an architectural model and is very disturbing.

In "Across the United States," Zokowsky switches to dense, encyclopedic detail and roams in horizontal scroll fashion over American's heartland, letting farm fields melt into mountains, mountains into urban clutter. Zokowsky may offer one of the few genuine examples of contemporary "sublime," showing us a magnificent cosmos in "Another Place" and its dark, snickering counterpart in "The Forest at Night." (Newspace, 5241 Melrose Ave., to Feb. 13.)

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