Review: Cole Case paints moments of breathtaking innocence, whether at an Italian convent or LAX


Innocence has nothing to do with naiveté, even though cynics often treat the two qualities as if they were the same.

To understand the difference between the two ways of being in the world, head over to Cole Case’s exhibition at E.C. Lina in West Adams, where his ninth solo show in Los Angeles includes eight oils on linen and a pair of pastels on paper.

The title, “Like a Tuning Fork Struck Upon a Star,” suggests that Case is a romantic, as well as a fan of “The Great Gatsby,” in which F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the phrase to describe the moment before Gatsby and Daisy kiss.


Case’s paintings strike a similar chord — of charged stillness, when everything around you feels as if it’s exactly where it’s meant to be, poised and perfect and on the cusp of giving way to an experience even more breathtaking.

There’s nothing naive about that. It’s a pretty sophisticated sensation. It’s accompanied by heightened perception. And heart rate. Not to mention excitement and vulnerability.

That’s what you feel when see Case’s paintings. Although his carefully delineated pictures appear to be calm, cool and collected, each is aglow with the warmth and sensuality usually associated with lovers and loved ones.

The four works that depict 14th and 15 century convents and chapels and palaces in Florence and Padua, Italy, treat each brick of each building as if it were the center of the universe, both light source and still point around which everything revolves.


The two paintings that depict the sky over LAX — and the no-man’s-land beneath — seem to channel the impossible beauty of Henri Rousseau’s pictures of wild beasts hanging out as if they were best friends. In Case’s hands, aerial traffic jams neither frustrate nor prevent you from catching a flight so much as they make the moment expand into a long-lasting pleasure to get lost in — its serenity both endless and stimulating.

Case’s paintings and drawings of the moon are also wondrous, their gray and black palettes creating enough time and space for something unexpected to happen — again and again. Sometimes, innocence and wisdom go hand-in-hand.

E.C. Lina, 4480 W. Adams Blvd., L.A. Through Feb. 16; closed Sundays and Mondays. (323) 998-0464,

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