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Review: Attraction at play in 'Robert Overby' at Marc Selwyn

May 17, 2012|By David Pagel
  • Robert Overby, "Black Hands," 1977.
Robert Overby, "Black Hands," 1977. (Robert Wedemeyer / From…)

“Robert Overby: Paintings and Drawings from the 1970s” takes visitors back to a time when sex was sexy.

At Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Overby’s nine oils on canvas and four works on paper bespeak an age when sex had more atmosphere than it does today. Although sex seems to suffuse nearly every image we see, its presence has been sanitized and streamlined — cleaned up to boost sales of everything from perfume to pharmaceuticals, phones to French fries.

Overby (1935-1993) got a late start in art. Turning to it in 1969, after an award-winning career in graphic design, he worked fast and furiously. His paintings of torsos, limbs and genitals are powerful because they sell nothing but themselves. And they do so in ways that make viewers think twice (or three times) about what we find desirable.

Overby’s steamy images still give off a whiff of adventure, danger and romance. Think Rene Magritte’s mind-bending pictures by way of Allen Jones’ bodily furniture. Or John Altoon’s salacious drawings via Ed Ruscha’s enigmatic emblems. Either way, the hot charge of Overby’s art played a very small part in the plethora of exhibitions that made up Pacific Standard Time, which seems drily academic when compared with what Overby was up to at that time.

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Marc Selwyn Fine Art, 6222 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 101, (323) 933-9911, through June 16. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.marcselwynfineart.com

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