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La Cienega Area

Pristine interiors in sharp, raking light are the subjects of new paintings by Santa Monica artist Bruce Cohen. Through the open windows, soft green landscapes beckon, but indoors there is a slight feeling of unease. You begin to wonder why no one is ever home.

In one of these untitled works, the sheets on the bed are rumpled, a tulip droops from a smartly striped pot, and the portion of the landscape reflected on the windowpanes is a dull gray. There is a curious tension between the handle of the open door on the left side of the canvas and the prominent, T-shaped hardware on the right side--seemingly too far away to link up with the knob’s mechanism.

In another painting, the elegant diamond-patterned floor, expensive-looking slim-legged table and blue-and-white porcelain bowl holding peaches contrast rather oddly with the down-home image of a barn casting a shadow on the open door.

The flat blocks of color that delineate these interiors have a curiously strong presence in this work, at once coolly, decoratively geometric (the code-like abbreviation of a door positioned so neither side is visible) and suggestive of loss and abandonment (the open dresser drawer in the same canvas). Perhaps the symbolic “language” of the various kinds of flowers in every scene might offer a clue. (Asher/Faure, 612 N. Almont Drive, to April 22.)

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