DeLoss McGraw: Dream-like escapism full of mystery

DeLoss McGraw's whimsical style at work at Couturier Gallery

Painter and illustrator DeLoss McGraw’s exhibition at Couturier Gallery features an enigmatic series of recent small gouaches and a selection of other, older works, including a few sculptures. It is a pleasant if largely unremarkable portrait of a sincere and whimsical artist.

McGraw’s work is usually inspired by stories or poetry, and the imagery is dream-like: fantastical, brightly colored and idiosyncratic. The style is naive and folk-artsy with stiff, simple figures and flat areas of color. A sophisticated palette dominated by acid hues saves many of the works from dullness.

The latest series, “I’ve Run Away From the Circus,” seems to be a paean to escapism. It features illustrations of children reading as the characters in the books — bears, clowns, balloons, etc. — come to life around them. The narrative is loose to begin with but is unfortunately further diluted by the installation, which intersperses unrelated works into the sequence as it wraps around the gallery.

The standout however is the large painting “Moses,” in which the baby prophet lies in a nutshell of a basket, floating in a deep blue expanse alive with fish, flowers, insects and splashes of bright color. The piece is suitably mysterious, romantic and thoroughly captivating.

Couturier Gallery, 166 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 933-5557, through Nov. 29. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

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