November 2 - December 1, 1994

Burning Lights, Inward Bound

LAX/94 isn't the only multiple gallery game in town. “Towards a Greater Realm”, spanning 11 exhibition sites, examines local approachesto “spirituality, myth and the inner journey”. The multisite survey has been coordinated by Loyola Marymount gallery director Gordon Fuglie, whose own show brings together four artists employing traditional, even anachronistic methods and veryhigh production values in the search for a meaningful metaphysic. Judeo-Christian scripture and belief suffuse this work, but the artists avoid dogma and orthodoxy by building on more visionary interpretation (Gnosticism, the kabala, kataphatism, even the Tarot) and by conflating older and newer styles of representation. Michael Schrauzer exploits and expands the altarpiece format, juxtaposing exactingly rendered images, both mundane and hallucinatory, Inside symmetric arrangement of carefully crafted compartments. Laura Lamworth heightens the perspective drama of Renaissance painting in her depictions of highly ordered, mysteriously appointed Interiors, adding resonance to the symbol-laden arrangements. Jan Saether applies a Baroque-realist approach to unlikely yet profound apparitions animated by prenatural light.  John Frame's marionettelike carvings effectively combine Gothic sculpture with Northern Renaissance painting, giving space and sinew to Boschian and Breughelian allegory. Graced with virtuosic skills, all four artists are inspired and redirected by fin de siècle Symbolism, modern surrealism, and a millennial hunger for states of transcendence made palable.

The three artists in “Inward Bound" also seek those states, but to varying degrees find them in abstraction. Derrik Van Nimwegen's multipanel panorama, a meditation inspired by the Vietnam Memorial wall, metamorphoses a shadowy and somewhat fiery landscape into an agitated seismographic readout. Victor Raphael, musing on a more restful subject (the long peristyle pool in the garden of the Getty Museum), formulates gold and metal leaf into luminous fields, their pools and ripples activating and deepening what would otherwise be glossy, even gaudy surfaces. Maria Munroe invents Eturns, containers for the remains of loved ones, that shapethemselves eccentrically but handsomely to the character of the contained. Munroe has grouped her Eturns, a number of which have been created in collaboration with other artists, in a symmetrical, implicitly ritualistic arrangement.

“Burning Lights" at the Laband Art Gallery, Layola Marymount University, Layola Blvd. at West 80th St., Westchester (closed Thanksgiving weekend). "Inward Bound” at Sharon Truax Fine Art, 1625 Electric Ave., Venice. Both thru Dec. 3.

- Peter Frank