Review: High craft in the low reliefs of Ron van der Ende at Ambach & Rice

Ron van der Ende forges a captivating marriage between disparate art-making approaches to material reality. One, found-object assemblage, trades on the power of association and the evocative patinas of wear and use. The other, illusionism, depends on finely-tuned, seductive deceit.

The Rotterdam, the Netherlands-based artist builds his wall-mounted works from salvaged wood, stripping the veneers and using them as a palette of textures and tones. He creates low reliefs (six inches deep) that are painterly and sculptural, reading as objects of far greater depth and mass.

“Rounds” depicts a cluster of ammunition boxes seen from slightly above. Tops and sides are both visible, their labels and markings formed from meticulously collaged fragments of painted, abraded wood. Out of one exhausted material, Van der Ende conjures another, dense with latent firepower.

FULL COVERAGE: 2013 Spring arts preview

In “Type Stack (BENWAY),” named after a William S. Burroughs character, Van der Ende constructs what appears to be a pile of large block letters, as though from a dismantled sign. The illusion is satisfying from near and far. Industrial tones of taupe and eggshell and a range of grays literally spell out the letters. The chipped and scraped paint further tells of obsolescence and disuse.


This is a sign of a sign of a sign, but not a product of high theory as much as ground-level craft, a gripping work of visual fiction composed with tender reverence, by hand.

Ambach & Rice, 6148 Wilshire Blvd., (323)965-5500, through July 27. Closed Sunday and Monday.


PHOTOS: Hollywood stars on stage

CHEAT SHEET: Spring Arts Preview

PHOTOS: Arts and culture in pictures