Bright's Eccentricity, Crosby's Marginality
By Kenneth Baker
San Francisco Chronicle
July 20, 2012
The San Francisco art scene got a little dimmer when George Lawson closed his Geary Street gallery and decamped for Culver City, the latest gallery hot zone in greater Los Angeles.
Recently Gallery 60Six invited him to stage a two-person show here, and he has brought tasty paintings by former San Franciscan, now New Yorker, Sara Bright and Londoner Clem Crosby.
The compatibility of work by artists showing together often matters little, but in this case it strengthens the impressions made by both.
Bright, true to her name, turns out sweetly eccentric pictures that could have taken inspiration from artists such as Richard Tuttle, Howard Hodgkin or the young David Hockney.
"Windy" (2012) exemplifies Bright's manner of thatching together a picture that might or might not be abstract out of blithe-looking brushstrokes. Her titles can invite figurative readings - several mention landscape or weather - but her touch is so relaxed that it tends to make any interpretation feel forced.
Crosby also seems to steer by a pleasure in making and seeing that perhaps only painting can provide at this peculiar moment of its resignation to marginality in a culture blinded by speed and greed.
Crosby paints in oil on panels of aluminum-backed Formica, a slick, impervious support that leaves his brushstrokes looking not merely fluent but wet, in jeopardy of being smeared by a viewer's sleeve.
"King Heroin" (2011) and Crosby's two other pictures here draw attention to their own framing edges by sporting grids apparently arrested as they slump into shapelessness. The grid having given painting bones since the Renaissance, its coming unstrung expresses a sort of listless foreboding plus, paradoxically, a celebratory hint of the medium's liberation from its past.
LeDoux at the Luggage Store: Despite their sense of belatedness, Bright's and Crosby's works, by their relaxed execution and dreamy ambiguity, recall the utopian air that modernist painting emanated from time to time.
The paintings of San Franciscan Neil LeDoux at the Luggage Store take us into a completely different zone, one of strange, tense, seemingly ingrown absurdity.
This exhibition celebrates LeDoux's receipt of the 2012 Tournesol Award given annually by the Headlands Center for the Arts. Its title, "People of Earth," sets an odd tone, wavering between concerned address and cheesy sci-fi nostalgia.
A couple of canvases here, "Star Control" and "Pocket Universe," recall quite clearly pictures from LeDoux's 2009 San Francisco gallery debut.
He traced that earlier series to a childhood memory of finding a magical fountain in the Louisiana woods that he could never locate a second time. The series seemed to allude to Marcel Duchamp's notorious "Fountain" (1917) and moved toward more visceral imagery in the key of Francis Bacon.
I suspected LeDoux then of concocting a personal myth retroactively to account for paintings that even he could not really explain otherwise. Nothing wrong with that, in my view, but he provides no such obvious key to the new pictures.
A couple of scumbled canvases here present as blurry textiles, something like the reverse sides of knotted rugs. A number of others, such as "Shah" (2011-12), display networks of lines, resembling a cat's cradle, spanning a shallow, torn-open picture space.
Similar patterns, looking like abstractions of exposed sinew, reappear throughout the show. They bring to mind the anatomy lesson as a theme with a long history in painting.
But, absent organic figures, anatomy of what?
Of the revenant aliens - invaders from the past - that paintings have become in an amnesiac culture with no more need of handmade images.
Bright and Crosby discover a kind of lyric freedom in the practice of painting now. LeDoux presents it as an ongoing autopsy, relieved here and there by allusions or a flighty pattern, but leaving an impression that is hard to shake.
Clem Crosby installation at Venice Architectural Biennale
Haworth Tompkins Limited, Architects
selected panels from the Young Vic Facade
photo credit: David Grandorge
SAVE THE DATES FOR 2010 !
Clem Crobsy in group show at Beacon in Lincoln, UK
June 19–11 July 2010
with Beacon guided tours at the weekends
An exciting Beacon project in partnership with the National Trust at Calke Abbey, Ticknall, Derbyshire
Participating artists include, Karla Black, Lucy Clout, Marcel Broodthaers, Clem Crosby, Jimmie Durham, Mark Fairnington, Martino Gamper, Roger Hiorns, John Plowman, Daniel Silver, Jack Strange, Robert Smithson. In all likliehood one other artist will be added to this list. There will also be a performance, event and film programme over the four weekends of the project, including artists Doug Fishbone and Harald Smykla, amongst others.