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La Cienega

February 26, 1988|SUZANNE MUCHNIC

Mel Kendrick's latest exhibition of wood sculpture takes a Constructivist aesthetic from frankly man-made forms to those approaching nature. In works such as "Gabon With Holes" or "Tall Walnut With White Dots," he might have raided a carpenter's shop, stacking up chunky castoffs in tall, branching forms that have a vague affinity to human figures. Bristling with evidence of power tools and laminating processes, they are baroque structures that eagerly expose their cut surfaces and details. He also casts some pieces in bronze, occasionally brushing them with blue or white pigment but retaining the wood's character.

Kendrick moves closer to nature in "Black Walnut Log," blending charred surfaces with sawed zigzags; in "Rough Cedar and Walnut," he combines straight edges and abrupt angles with stringy bark. But the 7-foot-tall "Big Tree--Cedar," the imposing centerpiece of the show, resembles a tree that has been cut apart and reassembled.

The range of this work is more apparent than real, however, and metaphorical content is largely in the mind of the beholder. Kendrick is essentially a formalist who builds each work from a single block of wood, consistently constructing dynamic form from a richly varied assortment of sculptural components. (Margo Leavin Gallery, 812 N. Robertson Blvd., to March 19.)

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