Review

Cynthia Ona Innis' painted topographies resonate

Cynthia Ona Innis painted, dyed, bleached and collaged her absorbing new work at Walter Maciel Gallery, and her layered process resonates meaningfully with the geological complexity and stratification of the California landscapes that were her inspiration.

The paintings have their own rich topographies, built over time, through addition and removal, evocation and concealment.

In the large paintings as well as in many of the smaller works, Innis stretches strips of fabric, some a few inches wide and some just slim ribbons, across the canvas or wood panel. The horizontal bands distill the landscape into pure line, injecting a rhythmic musicality. Interspersed with more atmospheric inked, painted and bleached passages, they also impose a sort of interruption, breaking up the field like the stuttering streaks of a poor television signal.

The friction between complementary forces -- control and improvisation, palpability and ephemerality -- generates energy and movement within the work. "Anza-Borrego," one of many named after a specific locale, is characteristically dense and chromatically lush. Its upper half is dominated by a relative stillness, in a gentle palette of ivory and pale butter. In the lower half, that soft warmth is edged by flame, a tornado churning through darkness. In other pieces, Innis invokes a quenching cool, through glacier-blue, violet or teal. Strikingly, these paintings track internal temperature as much as external weather.

Walter Maciel Gallery, 2642 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 839-1840, through July 11. Closed Sunday and Monday. www.waltermacielgallery.com

 

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