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Review: Renee Petropoulos at Rosamund Felsen Gallery

February 27, 2009 |  6:00 am


Renée Petropoulos puts a canny spin on issues of global conflict and cooperation in her recent paintings at Rosamund Felsen Gallery.

Each piece is roughly 2 feet across, oil on beige linen, and composed in colors drawn from the flags of two particular nations, linked by some determined but unspecified relationship, typically relating, one gathers, to an unusually tenuous balance of power. The pairing is evident in the title: “From France to Algeria,” “From England to Sudan,” “From Angola to Albania,” “From Iraq to Korea,” “From Kenya to Jamaica” and so on.

The spin lies in the sleek, Modernist treatment Petropoulos gives to these none-too-subtle palettes. The compositions are geometric in nature, but finely wrought and wonderfully delicate. Some patterns span the entire canvas, creating a flat, blocky, textile effect; others float across the raw linen in medallion-like squares or stripes.

They’re lovely paintings by any artistic measure, and that loveliness comes as a clever, poignant indictment of the brute force such colors are regularly employed to corroborate or justify.

Also included in the show are a number of sound pieces, accessible through a provided headset, that follow the same formula, overlaying two particular national anthems. The result, in nearly every case, is a cacophonous mess in which the intrinsic aggression of the nationalistic impulse -- the righteous cadences and plodding, militaristic rhythms -- becomes the most eerily salient elements.

-- Holly Myers

Rosamund Felsen Gallery, 252 Michigan Ave., B4, Santa Monica, (310) 828-8488, through March 7. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Photo: "From France to Algeria." Credit: Rosamund Felsen Gallery