Seeing Grace in Puget Sound
Laura Lasworth's ravishingly beautiful paintings at Lora Schlesinger began as studies of the Puget Sound, as viewed from her Seattle apartment. They remain that – chronicles of moody weather, charged atmosphere, distant, placid sea – but the view also serves as a framework for tableaux, mostly with Christian themes. The sea reads as a fluid channel one moment and as a solid stage the next. It becomes a shelf for Lasworth's personal archive of images and meditations.
All 18 of the meticulously painted oils on wood panel measure 12 by 12 inches, a size that lends itself to the intimate more than the expansive. But Lasworth eases the two scales into converging the private and the worldly, the palpable and allegorical.
In "White Willow Tree (Psalm 79)," heavy slate clouds release a curtain of rain behind the tree, which weeps lightly from its bone-pale, calligraphic branches. It's a gorgeous icon of lamentation, with emotional resonance independent of its biblical reference.
As in her past bodies of work along literary and spiritual themes, Lasworth's new paintings are dense with associations with philosophers and artists (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and George Tooker both make appearances), biblical passages and places of religious and historic import, namely Jerusalem's Western Wall. Familiarity with her references deepens the experience of the work, but a sense of visual and spiritual occasion prevails regardless. Lasworth is a painter of uncommon integrity, uniting the symbolic, soulful and sensual with absolute grace. – Leah Ollman
Lora Schlesinger Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 828-1133, through March 27. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.loraschlesinger.com.