A lot of people believe that abstract paintings are supposed to be big, bold and decisive — stunning improvisations by geniuses who bowl you over with the magnitude of their derring-do.
Andy Giannakakis’ abstract paintings at Park View/Paul Soto gallery do not behave in such clichéd ways. Small, subtle and so elusive that they seem unresolved — if not unfinished or given up on — the L.A. painter’s seven oils on panel chart their own course. That pays off in spades. Visitors to “Country Paintings” are the beneficiaries of Giannakakis’ go-it-alone ingenuity.
In contrast to works of contemporary art that treat the present as if it were the be-all and end-all, Giannakakis’ endlessly reworked compositions look as if they’d rather be anywhere but right here, right now.
Immediacy is not their goal. The present is overrated, Giannakakis’ paintings silently insist, no match for the past or the future — and certainly not for the moments when those spans of time are combined in the works of a painter who loves slow-brewed developments.
On first glance, each of Giannakakis’ smudgy, rough-and-tumble panels looks as if it’s been abandoned. Blurry shapes, smudged colors, unbalanced compositions, over-painted passages and scraped-away sections make you think his works need more work if they are to look complete and feel resolved.
But if you give any of them a few minutes, you begin to see things differently. Each appears to be dissolving, its shapes and spaces disappearing, just like the real world seems to do when thick fog rolls in.
At the same time, each of Giannakakis’ atmospheric abstractions appears to be congealing, its diaphanous colors, vague shapes and indistinct textures gaining substance, clarity and tactility. Blobs begin to become figures. Spaces start to transform themselves into landscapes. Blurry smudges and abstract smears begin to resemble recognizable objects with weight and presence.
But neither endpoint is ever reached. A here-it-comes, there-it-goes dynamic animates Giannakakis’ paintings, which seem as if they are breathing, deeply and slowly. Looking at them is a lot like daydreaming in real time and in reverse, watching intuitions nearly come into focus and then nearly fade into nothingness.
Showing rather than telling, Giannakakis’ paintings make a virtue of patience — and make patience its own reward.
When: Wednesdays-Saturdays, through Jan. 18 (see website for holiday closures)
Info: (213) 509-3518, www.paulsoto.net
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