Art review: ‘Rear Window’ at Patrick Painter Inc.


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“Rear Window: Brought to You in High-Def” is a summer group show that has only the slimmest connection to Alfred Hitchcock’s film. One link between the 1954 movie and the 11 works in the 10-artist show at Patrick Painter Inc., nearly all of which date from the 1990s, is the fact that both were made with cameras by artists famous in their fields.

“Rear Window” is in color, as are half of the prints in the exhibition. These range from John Baldessari’s lushly tinted prints to Jean-Luc Mylayne’s snapshot-style pictures of birds to Ed Ruscha’s studio shot of a shiny car part, its grays and silvers suggesting black-and-white masterpieces.


Several photographs depict women, including Catherine Opie’s sun-bleached shot of domestic tranquillity on the rocks, Christopher Williams’ wannabe fashion ad and Dennis Adams’ subtly disturbing series of 26 portraits of Patricia Hearst, from child to bride and a whole lot between.

A row of windows, shrouded in shadow, is the focus of Craigie Horsfield’s richly textured C-print. However, the most resonant connections between the classic movie and the contemporary images are the least literal: a sense of mystery, memory’s capacity for distortion and the mind’s desire to find relationships where none may be.

Misperception, misinterpretation and the mistakes these miscues lead to is one of Hitchcock’s great themes. They are integral to Mike Kelley’s series of 34 playfully captioned stalactites and stalagmites. They also play a role in Reinhard Mucha’s nostalgia-tinged diptych and Juan Muñoz’s four small photos, which reveal the secrets behind a magic trick while maintaining just a hint of enigma.

At its best, that’s how the show works: Starting with a mad proposition, it gets in your head and doesn’t let you rest.

-- David Pagel

Patrick Painter Inc., 2525 Michigan Ave., Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, (310) 264-5988, through Sept. 16, Closed Sundays and Mondays,