Art review: Scot Heywood's serene paintings are islands of calm

Stillness, silence and calm are probably not the first features that come to mind when contemporary art is mentioned. Scandal is far more likely to make the headlines.

But if you spend any time with Scot Heywood’s slow paintings, you might get excited by the way they alert you to the beauty of doing nothing more than standing still and staring.

To see a two-, three- or four-color painting by the 62-year-old Angeleno is to find yourself in a situation free of the ordinary anxiety — or adrenalin buzz — that usually heightens perceptions, sharpens wits and drives life forward.

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Heywood’s serene paintings make relaxation look easy, providing visitors to his concurrent exhibitions quiet islands of respite from the craziness of modern life while keeping boredom at bay by stimulating the senses in subtly satisfying ways.

At Frank Lloyd Gallery, “A Survey of Small Paintings” consists of 15 intimate canvases Heywood has made since 2001. Each consists of three or four rectangular panels that have been arranged in one of five ways, each a little odder, or idiosyncratic, than the last.

Each format includes a panel that seems to have succumbed to the tug of gravity and slipped out of position. But first impressions are deceptive. The luminosity of Heywood’s surfaces makes every part of his out-of-whack compositions seem to be exactly where it should be — floating freely, like an impossible cloud of regal color or a geometric butterfly designed by Mondrian.  

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At Santa Monica College’s Pete and Susan Barrett Art Gallery, “A Survey of Large Paintings, 2006-2013” includes 11 large canvases. Each feels significantly bigger than its literal dimensions, yet none of the intimacy of the small works is sacrificed.

In Heywood’s hands, serenity comes in all shapes and sizes, and, when it comes to art, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing.

 Frank Lloyd Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., Bergamot Station, (310) 264-3866, through Nov. 30.; and Santa Monica College Pete and Susan Barrett Art Gallery, 1310 11th St., (310) 434-3434, through Dec. 7. Both are closed Sundays and Mondays.


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