August 26, 2007

Rough around the edges

Kenneth Baker reviews two painting shows in the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Jimi Gleason: Vapor and Edge: Paintings," Toomey Tourell Gallery, San Francisco, CA. Through Sept. 29. "In this canvas, the stirrings around the edge have an almost narrative energy. In other pictures Gleason seems to conjure, only to mock, the impression of a Rococo frame. Even at their least suggestive, the edge details deliver a sense of the painter having swept drawing aside to clear a space for 'pure' abstraction....We might even see his pictures as allegorical defenses of something ideal against the incursion of everything real, except viewers seeking sensations of transcendence. But in opening up radiant emptiness repeatedly, Gleason's pictures begin to look emptier, the more of them we see. One impresses, a roomful depresses."

"Marlon Mullen: Paintings," Jack Fischer Gallery, 49 Geary St., San Francisco. Through Sept. 1. "Mullen's developmental disability would appear to render him incapable of 'meaning' his work as a trained painter might, because even intention - the first dimension of meaning in art - depends on comprehension of what other practitioners have attempted. So perhaps Mullen's work prompts us not to overestimate the value of intention or of any of the other facets of artistic meaning, not when something has the inherently persuasive visual force that his art does."
Read more of Baker's reviews.