Tuesday, October 28, 2014

(Review) Ed Moses "Cross-Section" at the University Art Gallery, University of California, Irvine

Ed Moses is a painter. He is not an Abstract Expressionist or an Abstract painter. He is a painter who paints abstract works. Those are the words that one of the curators and a painter himself, Kevin  Appel, relayed to me when walking through the extensive and comprehensive retrospective of Ed Moses. Ed Moses put Los Angeles abstraction on the art world map. Curated by Kevin Appel, and Juli Carson,"Cross-Section" traces the common thematic thread binding Moses’s prolific and continuous act of exploration. Moses shows his unbinding courage to take chances on visual strategies. A constant experimenter who always tries to redefine the process and visual in contemporary painting. This exhibition demonstrates the constant process of change and the willingness to go beyond the conventions of painting.

Moses' painting emerges from the West Coast Pop Art and Light and Space movements of the 1960s to reinvigorate abstract painting. Beginning with his crisscross paintings of the 1970s, Moses uses color and line to create a an architecture that uses conceptual ideas as a basis thus creating a grid. However, Moses is never content with one particular style. Throughout the decades from the 1980s to present, Moses changes technique and style and never gives the viewer a hint of what is coming next or the direction he's going. Then throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Moses breaks out from the grid and loosens his technique. He frees the use of color, line and composition in later works. The recent works negotiate between those extremes. Never satisfied with just one or the other. Moses is always self conscious of what is happening within the canvas, and what he is ultimately portraying to the viewer. There is never the angst of a Gerhard Richter or the ego of a Willem De Kooning. Moses is the definitive California abstractionist. Moses has experimented with pattern, grids, and even the scrapping of painting on the canvas to create movement of the surface.

If there is a forefather of Los Angeles abstraction, Moses would be the perfect candidate. I look at emerging painters such as Jonathan Apgar, Nano Rubio, Caitlin Lonegan, Chris Trueman, and Josh Dildine, it is obvious that Moses plays an important part in the development of contemporary painting in Los Angeles. The latest show is a retrospective that is well deserving.

October 11 through December 13, 2014
Opening reception Saturday October 11, 2pm to 5pm
University Gallery
712 Arts Plaza
Irvine, CA 92697-2775

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