Art review: Daniel Brice at Western Project
Abstract painting never looked more beat up, knocked down, abraded and used than it does in six otherwise eloquent new works by Daniel Brice. In all but one case, their simple Minimalist spatial geometry is enhanced by multiple panels which give material heft to the vaporously painted rectangular shapes.
The heavy burlap canvas glimpsed at the edges of these unframed works also adds to their rough-hewed quality. Visually, predecessors of Brice's work at Western Project are as disparate as California's Richard Diebenkorn and Germany's Günther Förg, although Diebenkorn's origins in landscape and Förg's in Conceptual art don't seem to apply. Brice is a materialist.
"OX 5," a diptych with a layered, cobalt-blue rectangle slightly off-center, features a strip of white along the bottom and up one edge, and it's anything but pristine: The thin surface is dingy from under-paint. The crimson-and-white rectangular shapes in "OX 4" look to have been put through a ringer, while the edges of a thin blue stripe down the middle tell of masking tape gone awry.
It's as if abstraction, once enthroned on a critical Olympus, is hanging on by its fingernails -- and turns out lovelier for its tenacity. Painting's death has periodically (and even ritually) been claimed ever since the camera was invented more than 170 years ago. But Brice's work reminds us of the coincidence between that unfounded assertion of mortality and the slow, steady emergence of abstraction as something beyond the otherwise wondrous capacity of the lens.
Western Project, 2762 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, (310) 838-0609, through April 30. Closed Sunday and Monday. www.western-project.com
-- Christopher Knight
Photo: Daniel Brice, "OX 5," 2011, oil on canvas; Credit: Western Project