« Previous | Culture Monster Home | Next »

Art review: Deanna Thompson at William Griffin Gallery

December 16, 2010 |  5:00 pm

ThompsonD Black-eyed Homestead Deanna Thompson is not the first artist to contemplate the isolation of dwellings located in the unforgiving harshness of the California desert. Usually, however, that subject is not fodder for painters but for photographers -- John Divola, say, or Mark Ruwedel.

For her inaugural solo exhibition at William Griffin Gallery, Thompson shows five large vertical canvases, plus two large and six small horizontals, all with the same general format. A flat-roofed house -- a shack, really -- is anchored to a horizon line beneath an expansive sky and vast field of sandy brown. A Bakersfield native who lives in Yucca Valley, she knows the landscape well.

Most of the shacks are ruins, viewed head-on, a rectangle within the rectangular painted field. The vertical paintings, each 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide, are the most convincing, perhaps because they exploit a viewer's bodily scale. Sometimes Thompson's images get lost in illusionistic landscape-painting techniques, which offer little more than description; but elsewhere, a more salutary devil is in the details.

In one, the shadow play cast by upright posts doesn't seem to conform with optical reality, imbuing the scene with quiet mystery. The face of another shack looks back like a blank stare, adding a sense of subtle desperation. A small slab of broken concrete by one front door has been reclaimed by desert scrub, as if the only obviously living thing for miles around was trying to get inside, out of the scorching sun.

The show is uneven. At her best, though, Thompson paints evocations of the isolation of an artist alone in a studio manufacturing images with unostentatious integrity.

-- Christopher Knight

@twitter.com/KnightLAT

William Griffin Gallery, 2902 Nebraska St., Santa Monica, (310) 586-6886, through Jan. 15. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.griffinla.com

Photo: Deanna Thompson, "Black-Eyed Homestead," 2010. Credit: William Griffin Gallery


 
Comments () | Archives (3)

Actually artists using the desert for a subject is vast-- it's just in the critics narrow world view the list is short because so many painters don't exist for him. There are plenty of great painters doing this subject myself included. I think it's a shame the artist has to paint such repeated static views to dumb her work down to the rigid art school format to "take the feeling out of it"( except desolation) so the critic can admit it exists.

William - Your comment comes across as sour grapes filled with envy.

Well at least I commented on it, that's more than you did. Did you even read the review?


Advertisement
Connect

Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Video


Explore the arts: See our interactive venue graphics



Advertisement

Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.


Categories


Archives