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The Galleries

Downtown

February 19, 1988|CATHY CURTIS

When Gillian Theobald paints a waterfall, it snaps over the edge of a bulky black canyon like a white ribbon pulled around a package, spins itself into a tensile bundle of foam and collects in inert blue rectangles. The unlikeliness of these programmatic landscapes is beside the point; they are really about contrasts of energy and mass, willfulness and stability.

Spread over the large area of twin canvases pushed side-to-side, these "Water" works have stark power. Some are weakened, however, by the edging-toward-realism device of mixing blue with the whiteness of the rushing water.

A pair of trees that look like oddly undulating human legs in "Tree No. 2 (Night)" have a disturbingly sensual presence belying the unembellished "specimen" appearance of their pale, sparing outlines on matte black backgrounds. But images of pairs of bowls perched near the bottom of sheets of black paper--one set radiating an aura effect--seem perversely "dumb" and without experiential associations. (Cirrus Gallery, 542 S. Alameda St., to April 2.)

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