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Entertainment & Arts

Review: The raw grace of Ned Evans’ ‘80s work outshines his recent paintings

The raw grace of Ned Evans’ ‘80s work alongside his recent work

“Mala,” by Ned Evans, can be viewed at Craig Krull Gallery.

(Courtesy Craig Krull Gallery)

Five new paintings by Ned Evans hang in the large, main gallery at Craig Krull as if they are the culmination of the 30 years of work sampled in the spaces leading up to them.

Though there are continuities throughout, having to do with structure and composition, the recent works turn their backs on the qualities that give many of the earlier pieces an affecting presence.

The canvases from 2015 feel like tired reruns of various modes of postwar abstraction, queasy cocktails of stripes and stains. Evans amps up his palette from the subdued, earthy hues dominating the decades prior, opting now for intense tangerine and deep violet, lots of aqua and royal blue. For all the vibrant color, though, the paintings feel drab, emotionally synthetic.

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The Los Angeles-based artist’s quieter, grittier work, especially the pieces here from the late ‘80s, have the most enduring vitality. Their palette is one of humility — dust, ash, dirt, wood — and their textures seem hushed by time.

In “Mala” (1988), two side panels of washed-out grays and browns flank a central assemblage of worn wood overlaid by slim vertical slats that taper to an asymmetrical point. There’s a raw grace to the piece, an understated rhythm and pace.

The materials in several such works imply a history of use, a narrative of building that resonates with the ways Evans himself has largely focused his efforts on the construction of architectonic space.

Craig Krull Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 828-6410, through Nov. 21. Closed Sunday and Monday. www.craigkrullgallery.com

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