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Art review: Brad Eberhard at Thomas Solomon Gallery

October 23, 2009 |  5:00 am

Crossing boundaries has been such a staple of Modern art for so long that it has produced a slew of academic works whose sole purpose is to pass as something else. Paintings pretend to be sculptures, videos masquerade as installations and photographs pose as paintings.

Fish_Finder.300It’s far more interesting when works are so peculiar that they make you forget about categories altogether; instead, you get so caught up in their details that they become worlds unto themselves — expansive spaces too big to be bothered by what names they might be given.

That’s what happens in Brad Eberhard’s 11 works on paper at Thomas Solomon Gallery. Made of torn and cut paper and oil and acrylic paint, the L.A. artist’s visually dense pieces jam together solid chunks of basic colors, delicately incised lines, leftover bits of printed images and a cornucopia of abstract passages.

They include whiplash scale shifts, radically fractured picture planes, carefully composed collisions and enough casual happenstance to give even world-weary viewers some gee-whiz delights.

Sometimes Eberhard keeps things simple, cutting and juxtaposing 50-year-old flashcards into concise yet mind-bending fusions of a tube of toothpaste and a painting by Mondrian, a hot dog bun and a dirigible or a watermelon and a Suprematist painting by Malevich.

At others he lets complexity rip, building tautly structured compositions made up of so many interlinked pathways that your eyes never travel across their funky surfaces the same way twice.

There’s always something new to see, some new discovery to make, some mesmerizing detail to savor and contemplate.

 “Fish Finder” puts one in mind of Stanton Macdonald-Wright, merry-go-rounds and Ferris wheels, its dots and curves taking your eyes on gently spinning rides through the cosmos. “Unfurling” is the visual equivalent of a deep breath, its becalming expansiveness as refreshing as a summer breeze. And “Inflatable Decks/Air Molecules” is all jumpy, pumpy Pop, its bright gum-balls of color standing in as a polka-dot sea that floats four rubber rafts.

 Eberhard has titled his exhibition “Cross Sections,” evoking illustrated diagrams that give viewers a different perspective and, literally, a deeper view of things. It’s an apt metaphor for his art, which does not strive to be a multitasking, multimedia hybrid, but stays home, sweats the details and gets the job done, no matter how the results end up being categorized.

– David Pagel

Thomas Solomon Gallery, 427 Bernard St., (323) 275-1687, through Nov. 14. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.thomassolomongallery .com

Photo: "Fish Finder," Courtesy of Thomas Solomon Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo credit: Joshua White.