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Review: Mario Correa's 'The Muslins' more than meets the eye

December 14, 2012|By Christopher Knight | Los Angeles Times Art Critic
  • Mario Correa's new abstract paintings build on printing techniques.
Mario Correa's new abstract paintings build on printing techniques. (Redling Fine Art )

Four large, recent canvases by Mario Correa, which he collectively dubs "The Muslins," are as much prints as they are paintings. Weirdly, they also add some photographic elements into the unexpected mix.

At Redling Fine Art, one horizontal and three vertical canvases -- all unstretched and hanging loosely -- are held to the walls by simple nails pounded into the upper corners. That construction metaphor continues in the imagery, which is framed along the frayed muslin edges by straight-edge lines of ink that recall chalk snap-lines.

The images are layered rectangles of color made by mixing oil and enamel paints, rolling it onto wooden planks, then printing them onto raw muslin. (A gallery handout says Correa used the weight of his body as a printing press.) The printed rectangles carry the residue of woodworking marks from assorted tools, including routers and gouges, while natural blemishes also got imprinted. The canvases' casually wrinkled surfaces yield the appearance of drop-cloths more than pristine paintings.

As his palette, Correa has chosen the four-color process used in photographic printing -- cyan, magenta, yellow and key black. Overlaps sometimes yield faint hints of orange, violet and other hues. Scrutinize the thin veils of layered color, and it's possible to determine the sequence in which they were printed.

Correa's rational, rigorously intellectualized method dots every "i " and crosses every "t" in an artistic building process that derives from Constructivism and Minimalism, with some Robert Rauschenberg mixed in for good measure. What moves to the foreground as a result, however, is something quite different -- a rhetorical emphasis on art as productive labor, not dreamy leisure. Slow and contemplative, the muslins work.

Redling Fine Art, 6757 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 230-7415, through Dec. 22. Closed Sun. and Mon.


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