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La Cienega Area

February 05, 1988|MARLENA DONOHUE

Saint Clair Cemin, a young Brazilian artist working in New York, debuts here with an impressive body of Surrealist based sculptures and drawings. Cemin's age and origin work in his favor. Time and distance separate him from the worn-thin Surrealist legacy, making his reading fresh and adventuresome.

Cemin converts the fossilized and organic protrusions, macabre transpositions of features and mechanistic overtones of the Dali/Picabia camp into handsomely spooky, sensuous sculptures in exotic combinations of meticulously worked materials like smoothed mahogany and brushed nickel, stark white hydrocal against patinated green bronze.

"Velle Non Discitur" is a table shape resting on curved paws. Six crude breasts of shiny nickel rise from the rich reddish wood base. An arched appendage of looks like a head rearing back with a narcissistic glance.

In "Form With Reverse Jar" Cemin starts with Surrealism but arrives at a place that is clearly his own. A squat, crudely modeled floor-standing creature, part dog and part dragon, comes close to those encrusted composite monsters on ancient Chinese bronzes. In a final tour de force of wit and craft, Cemin's "Talc Container" of bronze is a weird, rotund porcine form with a long snout that bears little salt shaker pouring holes. The idea of some fantastic Mongol princess wielding this cumbersome talc dispenser is deliciously ludicrous, but pun takes a second seat in a show marked by ingenuity and elegant vigor. (Daniel Weinberg Gallery, 619 Almont Drive, to Feb. 27.)

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