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Art review: Cristof Yvore at Michael Kohn Gallery

October 16, 2009 |  2:27 pm

The rough, burlap-like canvas used by French artist Cristof Yvoré is complemented by his blunt painting style and a palette of somber hues. Heavy and bleak, the still lifes set against blank walls and the scenes of empty interiors provide sallow contemplative grist.

CristofIn the 14 works from the past two years at Michael Kohn Gallery, Yvoré paints light over dark, so that shadows cast across a table top or floor by a vase of flowers or a protruding wall appear almost carved into the picture’s dense surface. Even when the paint is thinned and runny, any illumination feels contradictorily thick and weighted down.

A shallow white dish, placed at a table’s (and the canvas’) edge; views down toward the floor across an empty room, into which light from an unseen outside source seems unable to fully penetrate; a few big but drooping blooms in a brown vase, adjacent to what appears to be a small portable television set — Yvoré has chosen subjects that embrace downcast conventionality rather than distinction.

These are not the tender accumulations of humble but admired objects in the manner of Giorgio Morandi, nor are they the ordinary objects in a studio from which a bit of warmth might be coaxed, as Vija Celmins did in the 1960s. Instead, a fading loveliness is embraced for its own sake — a loveliness that includes painting.

– Christopher Knight

Michael Kohn Gallery, 8071 Beverly Blvd., (323) 658-8088, through Oct. 24. Closed Sun. and Mon.

Photo credit: Untitled, 2008, courtesy of Michael Kohn Gallery

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