by Julia Couzens
Nothing settles in Linda Geary’s loose-jointed new paintings. With unstudied deftness and bumptious playfulness, the paintings unfailing assert the continuing vigor and urgency of her formal concerns for which there is no single destination. Geary is a couturier as much as a painter. She wields scissors, shears and brushes to assemble and reassemble her large complex canvases. Loopy grids, fat dots, and wonky geometric patterns painted in unabashedly elastic, flat-footed strokes are central tropes that animate the crudely cut sections of canvas she organizes into collaged and layered wholes. Titled What Gives, the show includes four large paintings, a drawn construction and a suite of small works on paper.
Stay On It may be the show’s most congested painting. The work’s cockeyed graphic exuberance has the viewer steering through the rapids of her flat, bold, colorful forms yet evidences great deliberation in pursuit of structure. Roughly delineated shapes jostle indistinct plots and envelopes of space. Her reigning preoccupation with the issues of space, structure and surface continuously reverberates between pictorial suggestion and the resolute materiality of paint. Sprawling biomorphic shapes in greens and chalky blues evoking leaves and seed rows grapple with jittery lines and a weird spatial looniness. The work calls to mind some nocturnal garden jiving on steroids in a botanical bebop.
In Saw Anything Blue and Explode the Flowers, subdued washes bracket a panoply of abstract motifs. Ribbons and snatches of paint ride the surface, giving the appearance of arbitrariness. But the works’ essential heartiness and underlying geometries affirm their rightness. Geary is nothing if not shifty, advancing the spatial proposition that space is an area filled by forms and a receding cavity to be filled.
An untitled assemblage calling to mind a sort of giant bespoke boutonniere dominates one gallery wall. It comprises tacked-together sections of painted canvas and paper, presumably recirculating studio discards and outtakes. The piece possesses a goofy, unstrained tactility and charge. It’s a little bit wild, like a somewhat fresh, ill-mannered party guest, with its curling points of paper delicately snaking outwards as if to touch a passing hip or shoulder. Scale is important. The work changes according to the observer’s viewpoint, whether peering in-close or viewing from a distance. The graphic delineations possess a diagrammatic order that toggles between architecture, vegetation, textile design, and minimalist formal language — momentarily suspended from a ground plane. Geary is a painter for the long haul. Her insistently physical works, in hovering states of material fact, offer an unexpected hope that this is the time for planting and rebirth.
No Love Lost is Reed Anderson’s third show with the gallery. His cut-paper paintings continue the investigation into collaging, printing, and layering for which he is known. The purposeful order and logic of his fabrication process are the antithesis of Geary’s insistently unstable formal ruminations. Anderson works sequentially, beginning with a ground of painted paper into which he cuts ovals and spheres, then folds the paper and reapplies paint through the cutouts like a built-in stencil. Hand-cut patterns are then
superimposed to create works on paper rich with the evidence of their making. Tread patterns from studio shoes, fingerprints, paint blots, and grubby patches of mended paper are left to reflect the work’s history and become part of its tapestry.
The work’s complex fabrication is camouflaged by a dazzling optical exuberance centered on floral mandalas. In works such as Pleasure Fountain and I’ll Come to You, their stenciled patterns are psychedelic explosions of insistent color and arrays of seemingly expanding ovals and spheres. The best of Anderson’s work conveys a sense of depth and a flattened frontal perspective. Rhythmic movement can imply a three-dimensional space without being overtly architectonic. Anderson’s systematic methodology streamlines his production. But more significantly, it hints at relationships between the underside and overside, the interior and exterior, between what is conscious and what is not, and between maintaining and relinquishing control.
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Linda Geary: “What Gives” and Reed Anderson: “No Love Lost” @ Gallery 16 through October 29, 2022.
About the author: Julia Couzens is a Sacramento-based artist and writer whose work has been widely shown, most recently at Patricia Sweetow Gallery. Her work has been recognized with a Louis Comfort Tiffany Fellowship and is held in museum and public collections throughout the US. These include the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts; Berkeley Art Museum; Oakland Museum; Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina; and Yale University Art Gallery. She lives and works on Merritt Island in the Sacramento River delta.