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Art review: Mira Schor at CB1 Gallery

December 16, 2010 |  5:00 pm

Schor Flesh At CB1 Gallery, 21 paintings, most modest in size, by veteran New York artist Mira Schor span 1992 to the present. (Fourteen are from the last five years.) Language is a common image, especially in the earlier work, in which words such as "lack," "trace," "sign" and "silence" meditate on the range of qualities a painted object can and cannot accommodate.

"Flesh" (1997) is among the most resonant. Fleshy pink oil paint looks variously laid on with a palette knife, a small brush and maybe even fingers. Written in script, the title word is scratched into the uneven surface, revealing darker red under-painting. The incision suggests a blade has cut into skin to expose an open wound. As this particular word is made into flesh, it joins with the activity of painting to make a potent talisman.

Painting, especially American abstract painting, has long been likened to the human body -- a skin stretched taut over a skeletal support. Schor's more recent paintings introduce thought bubbles and mechanize the figure with a flat, robot-like form. The robot seems variously puzzled and obsessed by an old-fashioned printed book carried in its hand.

The robot might be female, since it appears to wear a dress. But the schematic, profile style also harkens back to the hieroglyphic figures of ancient Egypt, who speak a mysterious language that continues to fascinate. A better analogy than that for the place of painting in today's hyper-digital universe is difficult to imagine.

-- Christopher Knight

@twitter.com/KnightLAT

CB1 Gallery, 207 W. 5th St., L.A., (213) 806-7889, through Jan. 9. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. www.cb1gallery.com

Photo: Mira Schor, "Flesh," 1997, oil on canvas. Credit: CB1 Gallery

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