The collage and graphite drawings of Tom Dowling are pointedly ambiguous investigations of geometry. They co-opt fragments of realist based art reproductions then divest them of meaning by treating them with a formalist’s clinical detachment. These strangely fractured postcard and magazine images are used strictly as abstract forms and integrated with overdrawing into tight graphite compositions of ovals, circles and broken geometric shapes. “Constructionist Oval/Keftrel” is an elongated oval drawing of radiating stripes and portions of gray solid squares awaiting the settling of a final puzzle chip that pictures the feet of a bird of prey tethered to a perch. The alignment of lines within both images makes the whole click solidly together.
The tiny photo inserts in Dowling’s large acrylic on paper paintings however cannot integrate and seem glued to the surface at the last minute. Against the real power of the large painted shapes they read like stray postage stamps stuck in the paint.
Jan Taylor’s abstract, enamel-on-linen paintings are formal statements that derive a narrow sense of harmony from the opposition of painterly surfaces and the hard-edged precision of sheets of lead. Most of the canvases are roughly triangular painted grounds weighted down at the bottom by rectangular sheets of thin metal. It’s a limited approach that seems to stall as it repeatedly represents the contrast of glossy enamel with dull gray lead or color dense fields of brushy marks opposing the flat sheen of metal. (The Works Gallery, 106 W. 3rd St., Long Beach, to Nov. 6.)