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Art review: Jill Giegerich at Cardwell Jimmerson Contemporary Art

January 20, 2011 |  6:30 pm

JGeigerich shelves 2 The left side of one of Jill Geigerich's absorbing new paintings at Cardwell Jimmerson shows the ear and left side of a man's head, drawn with the cheery graphic bluntness of a "Mad Men"-era commercial advertisement. Adjacent to the ear is an elaborate swirl of pink calligraphy, like a feminine bit of embroidered monogram.

Geigerich links these otherwise incongruous elements through the formal similarity between the ear's curling anatomy and the embroidery's looped design. As a deft image that suggests listening to visual language, the painting generates a winsome double take. Its silence is deafening, while the gulf it implies between the sexes is vast.

Geigerich has a knack for packing complex propositions into a few carefully chosen and deployed images. Other paintings conflate a girl's pony tail with organic plants, merge droplets of water with tears and empty out Cézanne-style vessels with splashes of poured color.

Three -- ranging in size from about a foot on one side to nearly 5 feet high -- pair exotic, artichoke-like blooms in fields of dark color interrupted by schematic machinery. Loosely reminiscent of flower paintings and desert landscapes by such enigmatic early 20th century Southern Californians as Henrietta Shore and Agnes Pelton, these works hinge on the subtle tensions between banal prose and oracular poetry.

She emphasizes painting's status as a physical object too -- partly through the use of unusually deep stretcher bars, which push the surface plane of the painting away from the wall while exposing numerous layers of oil paint along the edges. (Those layers of under-paint make for soft surfaces of luminous visual depth.) Thirteen of the show's 23 paintings are small canvases lined up on three tiers of shelves; the allusion to books is inescapable, while the power of visual imagination is underscored.

-- Christopher Knight

@twitter.com/KnightLAT

Cardwell Jimmerson Contemporary Art, 8568 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 815-1100, through Feb. 12. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.cardwelljimmerson.com

Photo: Jill Geigerich, paintings, oil and collage, 2007-2010. Credit: Cardwell Jimmerson

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