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Art review: Judie Bamber at Angles

December 8, 2011 |  4:00 pm

BamberMomWithTanLines-LATimesC

The seven works by Judie Bamber hanging now at Angles make a stab at answering the show’s interrogative title: “Are You My Mother?” It’s a rare question for a daughter to ask, but Bamber’s subject is the mother she couldn’t have known, the woman who lived and loved prior to the artist’s birth.

Bamber bases her modestly scaled watercolors and graphite drawings on photographs taken by her father. An earlier series by the L.A. artist transposed snapshots of him as a young man, and other previous works explored aspects of female sexuality. In this group of images, memory and sexual identity collide as Bamber pieces together a portrait of her mother as a young woman.

A few of the scenes are typical domestic snapshots: woman curled up on the couch with a book, or seated with light evocatively casting half her face in shadow. Bamber introduces a sense of time’s slippage in a second view of her mother reading, this one with a subtle doubling of the subject’s shifted limbs. All are gorgeously drawn, meticulous but not fussy, akin to Vija Celmin’s touch.

Things get more complicated, emotionally, in the images of her mother nude, pensively examining her body in the mirror or sprawled out on blood red carpet, laughing. Bamber’s scrutiny of these private performances feels at once like both a breach of intimacy and a precious manifestation of it

--Leah Ollman

Angles Gallery, 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 396-5019, through Dec. 23. Closed Sunday and Monday. www.anglesgallery.com

Image: Judie Bamber, "Mom With Tan Lines #1." From the artist and Angles Gallery. Photograph by Brian Forrest.

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