Thomas Eggerer's 'Harvest,' a heavy burden for unseen rewards

Thomas Eggerer's two paintings at Richard Telles a striking mix of idiosyncrasy

Thomas Eggerer's show at Richard Telles consists of only two recent paintings, each given a room of its own. "Heavy Harvest" is symphonic; the other, untitled canvas is also large, but conceptually, more of a chamber piece. Both are striking, and the isolation serves to hone attention to their idiosyncratic strengths.

The agricultural scene comes off as dystopic. Nothing could possibly grow in that stark gray field, but workers abound, bent over their invisible yield. The crop, it seems, is labor itself. Seen from above, the furrowed ground appears to extend forever, and the workers too -- more than 100 of them -- appear drawn from an endless supply of anonymous cogs. They pick, carry, load; a few supervise and a few take a rest. As a moralizing parable, a la Brueghel or Bosch, the painting (an epic 127-by-107 inches) presents a mechanistic, dehumanized view of labor. Whether warning for the future or mirror of the present, the scene is chilling.

Eggerer, born in Munich and based in New York, typically paints figures a bit out of sync with their environments, and environments a bit out of sync with our own. The setting of the second painting is appealingly indeterminate, occupied by several shirtless men, some beer cans and an intriguing number of disembodied arms. Eggerer oscillates between tight, descriptive focus, loose and vigorous sketching, and swaths of opaque pigment that fog the scene, making the clarity/obscurity continuum itself the painting's subject.

Richard Telles Fine Art, 7380 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 965-5578, through Dec. 20. Closed Sunday and Monday.

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