Art review: Iva Gueorguieva at Angles Gallery


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The great art historian Leo Steinberg coined the term “homeless representation” to describe the way Jasper Johns’ paintings seemed to be down to earth and out of this world: utterly ordinary in their use of words, numbers and symbols yet existentially harrowing in feel, atmosphere and sentiment.

A similar sense of loss and yearning tumbles around in Iva Gueorguieva’s bold paintings of broken lines, fractured forms, shattered spaces and sullied colors. “Homeless abstraction” gets at the way her collaged canvases at Angles Gallery combine the intimate fury of gestural painting with the sobering knowledge that the damage has been done.


Bittersweet wisdom spills from every square inch of the Bulgaria-born, Philadelphia-educated and Los Angeles-based painter’s precise pictures of chaos in action, its dark, driving power less a force to be reckoned with than an inescapable fact of life.

In the main gallery, five mostly mural-size paintings jam the space with enough energy to make your head spin. “Reclining Nude: Stabbed” resembles a ticker-tape parade on spin cycle. “Noogal” could be an aerial view of a mining operation that has dug all the way through the planet to open onto nothingness.

“Tubalan” is an abstract emblem of what might be going on inside the head of one of Philip Guston’s hooded figures, its red, pink and blue stripes tracing a neural circuitry no less disturbing for being cartoon. And in “Clinamen” and “A Stage Above the Catacombs,” Piranesi meets Roberto Matta by way of Lari Pittman, all run through an industrial-strength shredder and then reconfigured to form their own Frankenstein-style beauty. The visual turbulence continues in a second gallery, where four big paintings put you in mind of Medusa having a bad hair day. In Gueorguieva’s hands, comic relief intensifies the menace of the well-rounded drama her art delivers.

She cuts big chunks out of her canvases and patches them, from the back, with swatches stripped from other, often discarded works. Gueorguieva also glues snaking segments of cut-up paintings to her works, physically rupturing surface smoothness yet holding pictorial space together. The impact on your perceptual system is immediate, awesome and relentless.

– David Pagel

Angles Gallery, 2754 S.La Cienega Blvd., (310) 396-5019, through May 15. Closed Sundays and Mondays.