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Art Reviews

Shelton's 'Corporate Men' Are Devoid of Props of Power

March 30, 2001|HOLLY MYERS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Suzan Woodruff, who quotes Kandinsky in her artist's statement, has taken this slice of the Modernist guru's color theory to heart. Her elegant abstract paintings, on view at William Turner Gallery, explore the complicated and potentially profound relationship between yellow and blue by playing them against each other in loose, watery compositions.

Because blue, the coolest of the colors, has the quality of receding from the viewer while yellow, the warmest, has the quality of advancing, the relationship between them when paired exclusively is a poetic one: a delicate balance of opposing tensions. Woodruff handles this balance with a generally wise and unassuming delicacy that leaves room for the sort of psychological associations Kandinsky suggests.

Woodruff's approach is clearly instinctual and emotional rather than mathematical. The paintings bear more relation to the organic processes of nature than the formal machinations of color theory, despite their self-consciously limited palette. With the exception of a few torn paper collages, which are somewhat muddier and less satisfying than the rest of the work, each of the compositions is oriented around a central circular or triangular form, and several are stamped with the black outline of a butterfly.

Although, like the colors, these are essentialist symbols, prone to simplification or cliche, Woodruff invests them with a genuine and convincing reverence. As a result, each of these lovely paintings transforms what might be simply a stylistic experiment into a concrete gesture of faith.

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William Turner Gallery, 77 Market St., Venice, (310) 392-8399, through April 21. Closed Sunday and Monday.

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Five With Promise: Sandroni Rey Gallery's current exhibition of new work by five of its regular artists has the air of an impromptu dinner party that, by whatever collusion of benevolent celestial forces, becomes an unexpected treat for everyone involved. The guests all seem to get along and the works, while significantly varied in medium and subject matter, mingle happily. Although the exhibition was not conceived with an overarching theme in mind, its tasteful juxtaposition of works elicits some pleasant surprises.

In two free-standing sculptures and a wall piece, the artist team Castaneda/Reiman uses common construction materials such as plywood, drywall, carpet padding and plastic skylights to create surprisingly refined works reminiscent of Pacific Coast landscapes, with watery shades of blue and green and crisp horizontal lines.

Two sculptures by Lynn Aldrich also use common materials but add a decidedly more festive spin. One is a table made from stacked sheets of colorful corrugated plastic and the other is a behind-the-scenes apparatus that periodically spews confetti-like silver stars from a small hole in the wall.

Photographs by John Pearson and Soo Kim offer a nice textural balance to the sculptural works, while also inadvertently echoing several of their themes, such as landscape and furniture. A subtly hilarious work by Pearson combines several photographs of armchairs and couches abandoned on different city curbs; each is lying on its side but photographed as though it were upright, which tweaks the rest of the photograph's world by 45 or 90 degrees and creates a delicious sort of pictorial confusion. In a lovely series of city and landscape photographs, Soo Kim presents a refined study in color--yellow and green particularly--that instills the exhibition with a mellow tone.

In all, the exhibition is a pleasant, late-winter treat--a casual showcase for good work that will probably keep the viewer watching for these artists in the future.

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Sandroni Rey Gallery, 1224 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 392-3404, through April 28. Closed Sunday and Monday.

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