Friday, September 15, 1989 / Part VI

The Galleries
La Cienega Area

There are no human figures in the pristine, luminous interiors described by Laura Lasworth’s thoughtful paintings on panel, just spare tableaux of tools, furniture, flowers and birds. Without being precious about it, Lasworth infuses her rooms with a spiritual radiance distilled from elements of medieval religious painting. In those works, common objects had symbolic meanings and holy events occurred in meticulously appointed domestic settings.

In "The Poetics of Pythagoras", the ancient Greek mathematician’s chair back is a trellis of budded roses, a lyre leans against a wall of his anteroom, and his scholar's desk holds geometric drawings and a tadpole swimming in a tiny measuring cup. These disparate objects seem to allude to Pythagoras' founding of a religious brotherhood, his discovery of the significance of numbers in music and his belief in the successive reincarnation of the soul.

Biographical clues similarly abound in "Thomas Morton's Reading Room".  A lotus floating in a bowl recalls the Trappist monk's interest in Oriental philosophy, the leaves of an open book - riffling in the breeze from an open doorway - may allude to his poetry, and an indecipherable object attached to a cord might be a reminder of his death by electrocution.

Other paintings are pure fantasy, like "The Ascension of Hazel Motes".  As if summoned unexpectedly
to heaven, the woman has left behind a pair of eyeglasses, a nibbled sandwich, and a pair of boots filled, curiously, with pebbles.

Lines as crisp as ironed creases divide the meticulously painted spaces of Lasworth's paintings into tight geometric compartments. The rigor of this superstructure suggests an attempt to locate the place where faith and reason meet. (Asher-Faure, 612 N. Almont Drive, to Oct. 7.)