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Art review: Guy Goodwin at Kathryn Brennan Gallery

February 12, 2010 |  8:30 pm

400.GG 1974 C-Swing "Guy Goodwin: Paintings, 1974, 2008" is a small show with a big title and an even bigger effect. At Kathryn Brennan Gallery, the 69-year-old New Yorker's second solo show in Los Angeles (his first in 23 years) juxtaposes a powerful gestural abstraction from the early days with two cool monochromes from two years ago.

The three pieces look great together. They also give visitors plenty to think about, particularly in terms of versatility and consistency, development and refinement.

"C-Swing" (1974) shows Goodwin at his best, turning a rudimentary composition into a wonderful puzzle of intersecting arcs, overlapping passages and interpenetrating planes. At the same time, all the crisscrossing conflict coheres to form an abstract emblem that is solid. As impressive as a monolith and as unadorned as a bunker, Goodwin's six-color painting has the presence of something built to endure.

  400.GG2008-01 Black Broccoli "Black Broccoli" and "White Grits" also show Goodwin at his best. Turning simple nouns into abstract compositions, these works from 2008 seem to be as weightless as clouds and as substantial as slabs of asphalt or concrete.

Built of layers of paper that have been saturated with acrylic paint and then affixed to large Plexiglas boxes, Goodwin's stark images make positive and negative space work in concert. They give graphic design the heft of architecture and the tactility of sculptural reliefs.

The beauty of Goodwin's works is that they show that beauty is not skin deep. The superficial differences in materials, palettes, finishes and styles fade in the face of his down-to-earth pragmatism and steadfast vision.

– David Pagel

Kathryn Brennan Gallery, 955 Chung King Road, (213) 628-7000, through Feb. 20. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Images: C-Swing, 1974 (top) and Black Broccoli, 2008, courtesy of the Kathryn Brennan Gallery.