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Art review: Doug Edge at Cardwell Jimmerson Contemporary Art

July 30, 2010 |  6:00 pm

300.DougEdge_Globehead "Doug Edge: Then & Now" shows the L.A. artist to be a dilettante in the best sense of the term: a lover of the arts. Although dilettantes are often mocked for being dabblers only interested in superficial amusements, there's nothing flighty or lightweight about Edge's affection for wit, wackiness and the unaffected wisdom they sometimes give rise to.

His 20 works at Cardwell Jimmerson Contemporary Art come in all shapes and sizes, moods and materials, tones and textures. In the entryway, three seemingly straightforward black-and-white photographs from the late 1960s and early 1970s introduce visitors to Edge’s peculiar sense of humor, his capacity to make cockeyed fun of himself while making even more fun of anyone who takes himself too seriously. The same goes for “Globe Head,” a self-portrait that brings we-are-the-world sentimentality too close for comfort.

A pair of cast resin pieces from 1966, “JFK” and “Malcolm X,” raises the specter of death and the nightmare of politics. For the most part, however, Edge’s cast resin sculptures and abstract wall reliefs, made of Plexiglas-covered panels, leave direct references behind, preferring anxious ambiguity to numbing familiarity.

300.DougEdge_JFK Most of the time.

A nearly 6-foot-square wall-work from 1997 resembles a topographical model of a vast plain of volcanoes. But when you look closely you notice that the thousands of spikes that make up its surface are interspersed with dozens of perfectly cast cactuses, fingertips and seashells. Abstraction gives way to figuration as logic is shown to be the real enemy.

Rather than seeking coherence or even consistency, Edge does everything he can to find the exception to the rule. It’s great fun to see so many of his works together because they play so well with one another, framing views, providing different contexts and ever-shifting perspectives.

Curiosity and possibility are more important to Edge’s oddball mélange of forms and figures than are answers or resolutions.

--David Pagel

Cardwell Jimmerson Contemporary Art, 8568 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 815-1100, through Aug. 14. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Images: "Globe Head" (top) and "JFK." Credit: Cardwell Jimmerson.