Review: Brad Eberhard’s bracing lack of consistency

Brad Eberhard, "Mesoamerican Ballcourt," 2013, oil and flashe on canvas over panel, 20 x 16 inches.
(Robert Wedemeyer )

Brad Eberhard’s new paintings are dense, gritty and fluid. They’re also loose, goofy and smart. And they don’t suffer fools. If you’re not up to the task of holding a multiplicity of perspectives in mind while making unexpected discoveries, these pint-size paintings will leave you out in the cold.

You’ve got to stick your nose right up close to the well-worked surfaces of Eberhard’s 14 mixed media paintings on canvas, panel and linen to see how their many parts work together, cohering into sensible compositions, dissolving into playful chaos and then rearranging themselves into other configurations.

At Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, the distance you need to be from Eberhard’s abstract pieces matches the distance from which most folks look at their phones as they type messages or scroll photos — about half an arm’s length, or half the standard distance of a selfie.

That’s the only similarity between digital technology and Eberhard’s shape-shifting exhibition. Titled “Screen Gems,” it evokes such animated classics as Krazy Kat and Color Rhapsody. In a sense, Eberhard superimposes many scenes atop one another, piling up information so that you never see it the same way twice.


Consistency is his enemy. No two paintings behave similarly.

Although Eberhard’s palette tends toward aqua, robin’s egg blue, fire-engine red and olive green, the ways he works his surfaces — with sandpaper, wax, collage and an oil-and-water mixture of acrylic and mineral spirits — gives each piece its oddball individuality.

Eberhard’s love of handcrafted objects and one-on-one interaction makes his paintings seem old-school. But his love of surprises, even unsettling discoveries, is up to the minute, even ahead of the curve. If “Screen Gems” adds up to a body of work, it is not a human body but something more like the offspring of an octopus and the Lernaean Hydra.

In Eberhard’s hands, mutation never looked better.


Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, 6006 Washington Blvd., (310) 837-2117, through April 4. Closed Sundays and Mondays.