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Art review: 'Ross Bleckner Paints Like Freddy Mercury Sings' at Patrick Painter Inc.

August 29, 2010 |  6:35 pm

Ross Bleckner

At Patrick Painter Inc., four paintings from the mid- to late-’80s by Ross Bleckner take visitors back to those days. The AIDS crisis was at its height, and the New Yorker’s brooding fusions of abstraction and representation captured a good measure of the fear, sorrow and tragedy of lives cut short.

Today, Bleckner’s powerful paintings still pack loads of punch. But they're less operatic, more rock-’n’-roll than they once seemed.

The show’s title, “Ross Bleckner Paints Like Freddie Mercury Sings,” emphasizes the connection between Bleckner’s pumped-up pictures of shining lights, blazing stars and glistening chandeliers, alongside caged birds, bruised flesh and ghostly forms, in a palette of earthy, sometimes washed-out colors. The way Bleckner has applied paint to canvas—urgently, even desperately—matches the way rock-’n’-rollers perform before live audiences: intensely and passionately and without a chance for do-overs.

That all-or-nothing, this-is-it immediacy comes through in Bleckner’s bittersweet pictures, which still feel like live performances.

--David Pagel

(Patrick Painter Inc., 2525 Michigan Ave., Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, (310) 264-5988, through Sept. 11. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Image: Ross Bleckner, "Untitled." Credit: courtesy of Patrick Painter Inc.