Neighbors and Strangers
While these recent paintings by David Deutsch appear extremely different from those of the last 25 years, continuity can be seen in their combining of abstraction and representation, the perspective of surveillance or observation, and sense of the impending. With regard to his occasional but notable rotunda paintings, 16 or so painted between 1989 and 2003, the connection is most simply the figure within a container.
These recent paintings are transfers and as such are related to the painting process for David’s plywood paintings from the early 70s. They are painted in acrylic on plastic sheeting, allowed to dry, an appropriately sized canvas is primed with a medium, and the plastic sheeting is placed paint surface down onto the primed canvas, smoothed and let to set for a day or two and then peeled away. The painted image has been absorbed into the medium covered surface of the canvas and the pulled plastic is again clear. This reversal is a distancing process, a device similar to checking out the strength of a painting’s form by looking at it upside down or in a mirror, and as well allows a myriad of seams, creases, ridges, and distressed surfaces that occur during the printing process to undermine the expressionist brush work of the so called painting. These qualities lure us into inspecting the paint application and separate us from the subject matter. Yet once we enter the physical uncertainty of the materiality we find that this alternate universe is indeed embedded in the other.
The new in these David Deutsch paintings is based in the loose expressiveness of the hand creating the passages of paint that build the muddy emotional weather and flimsy structures in which the colorful populated instances float. The immediacy of the paint application parallels the diminishing distance between the observed and the observer. Yet despite this proximity to intimacy, he and we still remain deeply, humorously, and helplessly distanced and uncertain of relationships, their outcomes, and their meanings. There is no closure.
David Deutsch was born in Los Angeles in 1943 and attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and the California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles. I’ve been a fan of his paintings since his mid 80s exhibitions at BlumHelman Gallery and am delighted to host his first solo show at Feature Inc.