La Cienega Area
We know Larry Bell as a key player in ‘60s light and space art. His glass boxes and environments produced infinitely subtle interactions of transparent light and color, wooing optical art and primary structure camps at once. What we don’t expect from Bell are gutsy paintings, but that’s just what he gives us in a current show.
As in his early glass coating techniques, Bell is still pushing process and materials. These works look as if they’re produced by a complex process of painting on thin plastic material with transluscent light-reflecting paints, with successive layers bonded to the canvas by heat to create one varigated surface.
The result is abstract canvases that hold iridescent light deep in their bellies, bleeding and folding into interesting irradiated edges that run from dark and nocturnal to calligraphically elegant. Unlike the ‘60s works, technique plays second fiddle to the conventional goal of a punchy finished product. Those that insist on locking text book artists into signature styles may cry “decorative” (a few works elaborated with hand applied pink splotches do get fussy), but at its best, Bell’s new track is handsome. (Kiyo Higashi, 8332 Melrose Ave., to Oct. 22.)