Painted by another hand, Norman Sunshine’s Expressionistic landscapes might be extremely ominous. In a large group of acrylic-on-canvas works that appear to be influenced by Philip Guston’s late painting, bare trees with chopped branches and other chunky shapes reminiscent of rocks, broken ladders and parts of mannequins jam into his paintings with all the grace of commuters on a Manhattan subway. Generally outlined in black and vigorously painted with short, choppy strokes of reds, blues, browns and grays, these firmly rounded objects ought to be bristling with nastiness. But there’s something so fundamentally friendly about this art that the expected tremors dissipate into robust fantasies.
This doesn’t indicate a failure of the art; it just reveals a sensibility more interested in painting than in the Neo-Expressionist trappings that shroud it with a veneer of trendiness. Having shifted from cool representation to expressionistic invention, from interiors to exteriors seen through windows and now to fantasy landscapes or mindscapes, Sunshine makes it difficult for occasional viewers to follow his transitions.
One thing is constant, however: He loves to build a good, solid picture. (Roy Boyd Gallery, 170 S. La Brea Ave., to April 30.)