Review: Brad Eberhard's paintings explore the depths

March 29, 2013|By Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times Art Critic
  • Brad Eberhard, "Way Out," 2013, oil and flash on canvas.
Brad Eberhard, "Way Out," 2013, oil and flash on canvas. (Jun Ohnuki / Thomas Solomon…)

In six new paintings, Brad Eberhard goes scuba-diving in the ocean and spelunking in caves. From the sea he returns with rapture of the deep (and perhaps a bit of decompression sickness), while the caves are filled with Plato's treacherous shadows -- which may or may not describe reality.

“Way Out,” the most beautiful of the six, is a cave painting. Blood-red pigment was poured along the upper edge of the 4-foot-square canvas and ran down the surface, recalling methods used by Jackson Pollock and Morris Louis. The dribbles provided the initial contours of an irregular pattern of abstract, organic shapes, which cover the entire canvas.

Eberhard filled in the shapes with pink, green, ochre and brown, sometimes scraping off the paint and starting over from scratch. Adding and subtracting forms and colors yields a rough but elegant look. The result is an abstract Color Field painting with oddly figurative overtones.

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Slowly a small cluster of exploring men and women emerges from the pattern in the lower left corner. The figures appear transfixed by the underground spectacle. They've been separated from their guide, who turns up next to a giant boulder at the center right. Smack in the middle of the painting a pink arrow points toward him and, presumably, the exit.

“Way Out” describes this rather psychedelic scene. (Another cave painting is titled “Colored Dirt,” which defines what pigment is.) Artist and viewer take the trip together. Eberhard titled his show “(dis-solve),” parentheses included, which unravels any claim to certainty in art's exploratory impulse.

Thomas Solomon Gallery, 427 Bernard St., (323) 275-1687, through April 20. Closed Sun.-Tue. www.thomassolomon


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