Abstract Figuration Bursts with Color at E2 Art Gallery
e2 Gallery, los angeles
THrough September 9, 2022
Written by Genie Davis
The color popped off the wall and burst in three solo exhibitions at E2 Art Gallery last September. Artists Max Presneill, Michael Mancari, and Alexander Kroll each had unique, primarily large-scale works on exhibit in In Parallax: Between Abstraction & Figuration.
The vibrant show provided a look at very different techniques and styles although all three artists used primarily abstract techniques with elements of the figurative. All three used a riveting palette: bright oranges, hot pinks, sky blues, soft peach.
In the main gallery, Presneill’s work featured a variety of painted mediums and geometric, symbolic, and representational shapes. His images are electrifying and intense. In “Parallax #8 (BLOKHD),” oil, acrylic, and spray paint on canvas includes a fully realized male head in profile, seemingly suspended above or attached to a swirled twisted cyclone shape. The letters “BLOKHD” sprayed across the top of the canvas. The background reveals neat, precise circles and rectangles, with spray-painted clustered lines positioned around the canvas like the pulsing of a heart monitor or audio mixing board. Yellows, golds, and reds throb.
“Parallax #11 (BRUV)” has a calmer palette with blues and blacks bordered by long, narrow red rectangles. At its bottom center is a black, red, and white diamond with a thin line emanating behind it like the tail of a kite; above and to the left, a circular wheel is placed, which appears to be a white-walled tire with a red hubcap and a blue boot holding it still.
His images riff on both graffiti and symbolism; their richness and layers toy with comprehension, dimension, and meaning to form dynamic, beautiful puzzles. In some paintings the mediums used become more dramatically varied, as does the number of layers within the piece. In “MiT#134 (Instrumentum Regni – pink), Presneill includes not only oil, acrylic, and spray paint, but also tea, coffee, wine, motor oil, rubber, marker pen, patch, sticker, leather glove, denim, plastic tape and a metal ornamental skull.
Along with his large-scale work, Presneill offered a series of smaller pieces, with less complex materials and content. These are lovely, simpler works, one startling with bright lavender and red, and while entirely abstract, recalling a classic still life; another a stunning and realistic outline of Betta fish fluttering against a watery green and red that looks like a floating water lily.
Mancari offered lustrous, large canvases created in oil and acrylic. These are brightly hued but calmer pieces than Presneill’s, resembling collage or a kind of wallpaper for the soul. In “Betty,” there are peaches, blues, and rose in his palette, and dark shadowy figures that could be people, or birds. This same work also features figuration reminiscent of skyscrapers, towers, and a fast moving, blurred car as well as delicate green stems and leaves with pink abstracted blossoms. In “Pedro and Alfonso Embrace,” the viewer can see the cab of a pick-up truck, perhaps a doorway, the arch of a bridge in the foreground of a city skyline. Each of the elements are pieces of the overall image, creating the sensation of viewing a series of spread-out photographs.
Kroll’s images are the most fluid of the three artists, liquid, as if they were poured on the canvas. Working in oil, pieces such as “Hologram and touch” have a bright sunshine yellow, burnt sienna, and luminescent blue all seeming to run into other colors but stopping short of doing so, as if they were the print on a silk scarf blurring in the rain. His images are softer in shape and pattern overall to Presneill and Mancari’s. In “Hovering,” a soft periwinkle blue and pale peach edge into vast, fog-like grey and white, which masterfully bisects the lower third of the large canvas. Thick paint sweeps across the canvas, evoking a wet morning sky or the eddy of a river.
All three artists pull the viewer into a world of intense hue and exciting form. Presneill’s are the hardest edged, singing of the street and city sunsets, and Kroll’s the softest, with Mancari presenting a mix of defined patterns within which softer, shadowy images dwell.