The guest-curated exhibition Evenly Scattered, for the most part, is. One might wonder why a name is required at all for an exhibition comprised intentionally of unrelated artists and themes. Isn't it enough to wander about and look at the work without a titular pretense?
The entrance to the gallery unfolds with works by Daniel Peacock. Peacock's tricky riffs on food labels and carnival themes is an enjoyable treat that goes down well with some humor but doesn't linger long on the palette. The denizens of his paintings are delightful and well-executed and that about sums it up. There is too much effort put into a kind of wink, wink, nudge, nudge pop sensibility and too little effort put into the presence and depth of the work.
Another artist in the exhibition, Chris Buzelli, mines some of the same territory and produces mythical, stylized paintings that are eye-catching and easy to like. Like Peacock's, Buzelli's work is more illustration than painting. The works are fun but, as far as purpose, they are waiting around for Andrew Bird to release more albums in need of art.
Next to Peacock is a collection of works by Nigel Grierson. The most alluring of these is "Man in Alhambra, Granada, Andalucia, Spain, 1983." The others are more contrived, and the digital printing doesn't lend the images the quality they need but, instead, cheapens the images. Carolyn Machado's assemblage works are, by nature, contrived, but they miss the effortless, seemingly inevitable pairings that mark the best of such work. Too concerned with a composition that never materializes, the pieces leave the viewer exhaling an empty sigh.
Rick Monzon's blurry, motion-capturing paintings range from gimmicky to brooding to captivating. In some works, such as "Seligman," the technique induces little more than an eye roll. In others, such as "Ascension," Monzon captures a heady, uphill perspective and a dramatic tension between elements. His work is best when it involves architecture—these works manage a foreboding and a moody presence that can be saccharine within his land and skyscapes.
Painter Toby Boothman exemplifies the kind of skilled realism that is expected from exhibitions at Klaudia Marr. Boothman is dedicated to the process and technique of painting as few others are today. In a repetitive display of nudes and portraits that read as fabric studies, however, Boothman's work, too, becomes illustrative.
When he is not trapped recycling styles from the 1950s, Gregory Calibey produces some very good work. The most engaging painting is called, "In the Afternoon, 2009." It allows pure space to stand in for the emotions of the two figures—one seated, one prone—and a combination of styles and techniques provides hints to a narrative that will be private to each viewer's imagination.
Using ink, pencil, crayon and chalk on paper, Cathy Fenwick's works are the most gripping and genuine in Evenly Scattered. The individual pieces are small and modestly created, but the use of her tools is exceptional and the draftsmanship superb. A few of the works, haunted by denizens with blank faces, like doll heads that never had eyes or features stitched into them, are also essentially illustrative, but pry at the edges of emotion and intellect so much more directly than do other works in the exhibition. Fenwick's hand and sense of materiality are that rare combination of work and ease that makes line, color and contrast appear to be the simplest matter, when it is anything but.
It is ultimately difficult to assess what curator Ivo Watts-Russell (co-founder of the legendary 4AD record label) was after in aligning this odd band of artists. But, like the tracks of any given album, it's best not to get too caught up in the intentions of the producer or the band and simply pick and choose what most pleases you.
Through April 6
Klaudia Marr Gallery
668 Canyon Road