In Judith Eisler's work, light trumps star power

Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson, as painted by by Judith Eisler, glow from the walls

Seven big paintings of cinematic close-ups and two-shots of movie stars by Judith Eisler seem to be less about Hollywood and celebrity than they are about light.

Gloria Swanson, Dorothy Malone, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson glow from the walls at Gavlak, but the people are finally just props – essentially interchangeable with three similarly large paintings of popping flashbulbs and movie lights.

The artist, who works in rural Connecticut and Vienna, paints from photographs, shooting an image off a video screen or using movie stills. Descended from Pop art and Photorealism, her fluid paint-handling incorporates elements of James Rosenquist’s billboard fuzziness and Marilyn Minter’s bracing aggressiveness.

The Taylor and Hudson painting's highlights are all-American red, white and blue. But light, a conventional subject for painting, written across unconventional faces doesn’t have much to add.

The actors are even something of a distraction, although not the kind that might create a useful tension between the reality of paint and the fiction of stardom.

Ironically, the three flashbulb and movie-light paintings are more captivating – a peculiar abstract geometry emerging from an equally abstract frenzy of illumination.

Twitter: @KnightLAT

Gavlak Gallery, 1034 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, (323) 467-5700, through April 4. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

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