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Santa Monica

February 19, 1988|MARLENA DONOHUE

In one huge and several smaller paintings, Margaret Kelly clusters bold, mythic shapes that somehow invoke the look of vaguely anthropomorphic primitive murals or textiles. In the ambitious large painting, Kelly gets our attention by keeping the work art-smart and technically sophisticated, alerting us that these are works about a private, idiosyncratic mythology.

In "Banishment," a funny erect heap of shape nestled in the corner telescopes a long tentacle to encoil a larger bright wedge. In other small works, hints of thatched roofs, tipsy structures and flora float in what looks likes zero gravity. Keyed to blues and pinks, the small works are too sweet, but Kelly packs real passion into the large "She Looked Him Right in the Eye," where a regally plumed bird creature built from rich, careful textures takes on an equally formidable serpentine adversary.

Mari Andrews, on the other hand, makes less more in clean paint-stick drawings with titles like "Turgid," "Spread," "Billow." Luckily, Andrews is clever enough not to give us literal translations of these properties. Instead she draws flat sculptural shapes in bright unmodulated royal blue suspended starkly on white paper or surrounded by a light royal blue mist. The force of these works comes from the simple direct inventiveness of shapes that look like beautifully symmetric synaptic fibers or kids' linear doodles. When Andrews switches to forced cocoon shapes modeled in space all her keen sculptural sense is lost and works suffer. (Shoshana Wayne Gallery, 1454 Fifth St., to March 8.)

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