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Art review: Lita Albuquerque at Craig Krull

February 2, 2012 |  6:30 pm

Lita Albuquerque, "Wind-Painting-01.05.12"
Lita Albuquerque has long trafficked in the elements, in the patterns of the cosmos and the promise of alchemy. Hints of both the earthly and the lofty emerge in her recent paintings and sculptures at Craig Krull. The show complements an ephemeral piece that Albuquerque staged during last month’s Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival. Albuquerque’s work feels most resonant when in dialogue with the profundity of the earth itself, and matching its scale — in the Mojave desert, among the pyramids of Egypt, in the icy expanse of Antarctica. The works here in the gallery feel slight and static in comparison.

A cast of her body enrobed in brilliant, blue powdered pigment balances on a small aluminum block atop a larger pedestal.The form has a stiffness and heaviness to it that defy its levitating pose. A trio of gold-leafed jumpsuits hangs freely in front of a wall painted that same intense cobalt blue, but the piece feels amateurish and inert, offering little beyond the chromatic juxtaposition’s optical buzz. The simplest and most affecting of the works are a group of “Wind Paintings” that Albuquerque made by letting the earth’s own breath scatter red pigment across wet blue canvas, shaping dense plumes and wispy films. Titled by date and precise time of their enactment, the paintings are physical records of transient performances, true (and beautiful) collaborations between natural forces and aesthetic intent.

-- Leah Ollman

Craig Krull Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 828-6410, through Feb. 25. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Image: Lita Albuquerque, "Wind Painting 01.05.12 3:33:10pm PST." From the artist and Craig Krull. Photo: Brian Forrest.