Review: Nancy Evans marries metaphor and myth at Jason Vass gallery


Toward the back of the Jason Vass gallery, past nearly 40 other works on paper, canvas, fabric and resin by Los Angeles artist Nancy Evans, sits "Lion," a tabletop sculpture with enough dense energy to serve as an exclamation point to all the rest.

"Lion" bronze sculpture by Nancy Evans, cast from bird of paradise casing, rock and driftwood. (Alan Shaffer / Jason Vass)

Made in 2008, roughly the midpoint of this survey's span, it’s 21 inches tall, a scale that miniaturizes but in no way diminishes its subject. "Lion" is at once animal, vegetable and mineral, cast in bronze from a bird of paradise casing, driftwood and rock. With its finely ribbed limbs and pitted froth of a head, the figure has gravitas, a mesmerizing bearing empowered by all the textures and associations of its generative materials.

Evans is adept at marrying matter, metaphor and myth. This show, organized by curator and writer Michael Duncan, plays to her breadth, at the expense of consistent strength. The bronzes, many of them smaller than "Lion" and relic-like in their visualization of warriors and Hindu deities, give the show its largest share of heft and visceral appeal.

Resin sculptures with synthetic-hued skins are similarly cast from root bulbs, palm fronds and more, but they resonate less jarringly in the gut. Spray-painted works on paper seem thin, in spite of their symbolic references. Paintings on canvas of trees, while reductive in form and familiar in content, feel expansive, in part owing to Evans' intense palette of teal, ocher, violet and olive.


Jason Vass, 1452 E. 6th St., Los Angeles. Through July 24. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.  (213) 228-3334,

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