FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2005
Metaphors for spiritual journeys
 

Laura Lasworth is a painter of breathtaking technique. In her solo show at Hunsaker/Schlesinger, she presents a group of paintings less obviously bound to literary sources than her earlier work. She remains true, however, to her abiding interest in the life of the spirit, states of faith and the human condition. Her images are gorgeous and pristine as ever, rich metaphors of journey, revelation, devotion.

“Mitten Tree” is typical in its distilled power. The lone tree grows out of smooth, gray-blue ground and stands against a pale skythat darkens around the edges to reinforce the iconic status of the central image. The trees branches are smooth as human limbs, choreographed into a graceful, frozen ballet. Some of the gray limbs turn golden and deep rust as they spread, as if blood circulated only selectively through the tree’s body. On a few limbs hang mittens, singly and in pairs, strung up like sneakers over telephone wires. The atmosphere isn't that of a prank but of something more symbolic, vaguely akin to the tradition in the African American South of placing bottles on the ends of tree branches to catch spirits. There is a quiet sense of anticipation in the scene, of presence brought about by the enactment of ritual.

  DISTILLED: “Mitten Tree” is included in Laura Lasworth’s solo exhibition at Hunsaker/Schlesinger.

DISTILLED: “Mitten Tree” is included in Laura Lasworth’s solo exhibition at Hunsaker/Schlesinger.

Most of Lasworth's paintings have that quality, every element within them of symbolic import, whether a lamb, bonnet or stormy sky. Only a few paintings are less than stunning. The rest are luminous prayers.

Hunsaker/Schlesinger Fine Art, Bermot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 828-1133, through April 2. Closed Sunday and Monday.

- Leah Ollman