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Seven Cliches Dwarfed by Trivers’ Reputation

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

James Trivers is an eccentric, L.A.-based wit whose books, paintings and prints have, in the past, been wickedly funny, even outrageously original. But his seven muddled pictures at Newspace look overworked and unfinished, with or without the cheap, 3-D glasses you’re supposed to wear when viewing them.

To the naked eye, Trivers’ diamond-shaped paintings resemble plaid fabrics whose stripes are not properly aligned and whose colors are smeared and smudged, as if they’ve been dyed too many times or accidentally printed on both sides before having dried. Ballerinas, marines, flying ducks, domestic scenes, a smiley face and horses engaged in human foreplay are only some of the characters in the artist’s loose compositions.

Donning the glasses clears up some of the muddiness but causes other problems. Trivers’ paintings, seen through blue and red lenses, sometimes exaggerate the effects of collage, appearing to be superimposed images that hover on the same plane. For the most part, however, the 3-D glasses don’t significantly alter the works. The main difference is that wearing them gives you a headache.

At his best, Trivers delivers off-base, on-target attacks on conventional wisdom. Though his art often makes scathing sense by reveling in absurdity, this time around it has the presence of a cliche. These paintings fail to generate sufficient energy to get past the clever, tongue-in-cheek humor with which they begin.

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* Newspace, 5241 Melrose Ave., (213) 469-9353, through Jan . 7.


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