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La Cienega Area

April 22, 1988|MARLENA DONOHUE

San Diegan Deloss McGraw is one of those super-articulate, super-literate artists who graphs that sensibility onto a folkish figurative format. The combination of art that's really smart but plays possum can ring fake, but in McGraw's hands it has the alluring charm of a kid precocious enough to intrigue us, innocent enough to convince us.

Not long ago McGraw illustrated a poetic version of the classic story "Frankenstein." His drawings did not depict the story literally but, like Chagall's dreamy narratives, reverberated around it. In a current series of gouache and pastel paintings and a few engaging sculptures, McGraw's strategy is the same.

The protagonists are a little fellow called the "potato boy" and an angel he's befriended in his search for truth. With chalky angelic faces, cheeks blushed with pink and watery, transparent bodies built from brightly hued loosely applied gouache, McGraw's boy and friends float through scenes such as "the potato boy enters a church for guidance, but becomes lost in the stained glass" or "he tries to convince his mother of the Angel's existence though her thought is glued to the past." (Simard Halm Gallery, 665 N. La Cienega Blvd., to May 7.)

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