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Suspended in Fields of Snow

November 23, 2000|HOLLY MYERS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Whatever else one might say about Jacqueline Cooper's new work, she certainly has a way with snow. Her large-scale paintings at Sandroni Rey Gallery are ethereal winter landscapes: broad fields of snow and delicate reeds, skirted by quiet glens of trees. The snow is rendered thickly, with exquisite undertones of blue and gold. The figures that Cooper places into these landscapes--nude women in sadomasochistic poses, culled from the pages of Japanese fetish magazines--would seem to belie the landscapes' majesty, but strangely don't.

The women have thick limbs and voluminous hips and breasts, and they counter the cold grandeur of the landscapes they occupy with considerable force.

On view with the paintings are works on paper (in colored pencil, charcoal and watercolor) that also display great technical skill. They are beautifully spare drawings, most of which occupy only a small part of the paper. Like the figures in the paintings, they appear suspended in fields of white. The drawings are considerably more graphic than the paintings (a warning to the squeamish), but they're more intimate and possibly closer to the essence of the desire that Cooper means to articulate.

Perhaps the most poignant indication of what this essence might be is found in a small detail of the drawing "Vivisection Diagram #3"--a charcoal line drawing with watercolor washes, which depicts a reclining woman bound with rope. At the bottom of the woman's left hip, the lowest point in the drawing, a tiny quantity of paint has gathered and run down to the bottom of the page, beyond the contour of the body, as though her sensuality were literally uncontainable. It may be the only technical slip in the otherwise conscientious show, but it speaks volumes.

* Sandroni Rey Gallery, 1224 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 392-3404, through Dec. 22. Closed Sundays through Wednesdays.

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