The first American gallery showing for West German artist Franz Erhard Walther features precisely made fabric sculpture. Conceptually based cotton works could be portable staging areas for visiting firemen as they fold out from the wall to display bright industrial orange or yellow coat sleeves and leggings. Originally the clothes were intended to encourage viewers to physically a part of the sculpture. Given the restraints of commerce and the difficulty in selling shopworn merchandise however the viewer must now be content with mental interaction. Luckily the art can make the transition though it doubtlessly loses something of its immediacy.
Soft fabric tubes hang from several of Walther’s pieces resembling one-person tents or yellow body bags. The suggestion that these simple forms are utilitarian adds emotional content to the strict formalism of the structures.
In gouache and pencil paintings Walther toys further with the idea of cover ups by cloaking patches of line and painting in a brushy wash of florescent orange or yellow. Bright and spontaneous as the multiple images are they reveal too little to involve the viewer in ferreting out what’s hidden. Suppression of information, rather than the importance of what’s hidden is the point to these rapid fire paintings.(Burnett Miller Gallery, 964 N. La Brea Ave. to Nov. 12.)