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Art Review: Rosson Crow at Honor Fraser

March 8, 2012 |  6:00 pm

Sorting the flash from the substance in the work of a prestigiously educated and excessively hyped young painter such as Rosson Crow is an ambiguous business. Her first L.A. solo show, at Honor Fraser in 2008, leaned mostly toward flash — big canvases, a blaring neon palette, heaps of stylishly graffiti-inflected activity buzzing across the surface of the picture plane — complicated by glimpses of what looked to be a soundly developing painterly intelligence. 

In this, her second L.A. solo show (after shows in Paris, London, New York and elsewhere), that ratio appears to have been reversed. She’s kept the big canvases but drained all the color, leaving a moody, atmospheric range of pre-Technicolor gray. She’s exchanged the jumbled, vaguely sordid interior scenes for a loosely abstracted urban milieu: landscapes of a scale suggesting the sites of rallies, marches, and ticker-tape parades, though devoid of figures and most identifiable detail.

The limited palette and the tip toward abstraction suit Crow surprisingly well as a painter, allowing for the cultivation of subtlety without surrender of the wide stage — the big canvases and the historical scope — that her spirited energies clearly warrant. The play of light through these hazy compositions has a resonance not unlike that of early cinema, yielding a similar quality of enchantment. And in lessening the distraction of specific historical and architectural references — those that remain are largely lodged in the titles (“Lindbergh for President,” “April 9, 1968”) — she seems to have opened up space for the emergence of a more authentic pictorial language, one that builds on her feel for the handling of paint rather than any declarative compulsion.

-- Holly Myers

Honor Fraser, 2622 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 837-0191, through March 31. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Image: Rosson Crow, "Jackie's Strength," 2011, acrylic and oil on canvas. Courtesy Honor Fraser. Photo: Josh White