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Art review: James Welling at Regen Projects

February 26, 2010 |  6:00 pm

400.0462, 2009 In his latest exhibition at Regen Projects, James Welling continues to explore the line between representation and abstraction by photographing the Glass House, the iconic mid-century home of architect Philip Johnson. The house, whose walls are made entirely of glass, sits on a wooded estate that served as a kind of laboratory for the architect, who built a series of pavilions and outbuildings around it.

Welling photographed structures on the site over a period of three years using a variety of brightly colored filters.

 The images are saturated with boldly unnatural colors that in some instances resemble the dramatic, high-keyed glow of a Maxfield Parrish painting.

400.8167, 2009 Parrish, an early 20th century American painter known for intensely colored neoclassical scenes, is an odd touchstone for work so steeped in modernism. Not only is Welling's subject a modern architectural icon, but the photographs also evoke abstract painting. Rothko's stacked rectangles often referred to landscapes; Welling's images use horizon lines to turn landscapes into distinct fields of color.

Yet some of the images, especially pictures of the Lake Pavilion – an open-air structure of columns and arches – strike a histrionic note. The searing blocks of color also carry an emotional charge, rendering the images moody and a bit romantic, not unlike Parrish's patently artificial idylls.

– Sharon Mizota

Regen Projects, 633 N. Almont Drive, L.A., (310) 276-5424, through March 6. Closed Sundays, Mondays. www.regenprojects.com

Images: Glass House Regen Projects II, Los Angeles, courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles © James Welling.

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