Roy Dowell has slowly evolved into one of L.A.'s excellent abstract painters. Moving through an odd synthesis of patterned abstraction mixed in with obscure figurative elements he comes to his current show with almost exclusively abstract works that are his best to date.
Works are visually complex and so pristinely ordered they hearken back to the logically worked puzzles of classical Cubism. In spite of an equally strong, almost oriental emphasis on an pattern for pattern’s sake (the works are vertiable mazes of teeny repeating cross hatches like the weaving of basketry, swirling tendrils like metal filigree, the squiggles of cheap wallpaper), Dowell arranges familiar things into compositions with tremendous allusive thrust. “The Inflexibility of Instinctive Behavior” is a large acrylic painting with a backdrop of complex weaving designs in greens and deep maroons. Over this, Dowell paints a huge vertical totem of rich blue cell-like spheres, each filled with quick black and white marks.
A nervous drive to order makes powerful reference to genetic material and looming archetypal emblems. Small collages look like pre-printed patterns with hand executed embellishments. Dowell reworks the notions of depth and pattern that fueled Picasso’s collaged bits of caning and linoleum. Dowell adds a further layer of interplay between surface and symbol and claims this body of work for his own. (Rosamund Felsen, 669 N. La Cienega Blvd. to Nov. 12).