‘ Spots’ zeros in on the odd­ness

Los Angeles Times - - POP WEEKEND - By Leah Oll­man Ko­plin Del Rio Gallery, 6031 Washington Blvd., Cul­ver City, ( 310) 836- 9055, through July 11. Closed Sun­day through Tues­day. ko­plin­del rio. com

Fred Stone­house’s amus­ing, some­times haunting paint­ings adopt many of the con­ven­tions of por­trai­ture — head- and- shoul­ders fram­ing, three- quar­ter view — but the sub­jects as­sume a kind of al­le­gor­i­cal stature, tarot card- like, rep­re­sent­ing a mythic per­sona, fan­tas­tic con­di­tion or daunt­ing syn­drome.

“Spots,” among the most won­der­fully un­nerv­ing, shows a young man with one blue eye and one black­ened green one. The rest of his fea­tures are ob­scured, oblit­er­ated by a con­stel­la­tion of oval dots in mus­tard, crim­son, white and olive. The marks have a clown- like buoy­ancy, but at the same time con­note a strange sort of phys­i­cal and psy­chic bruis­ing.

The abraded back­grounds of the paint­ings and their deep, heavy frames push the works into a neb­u­lous time zone, sev­eral steps re­moved from our own. Stone­house’s “Devils and the Dead” se­ries of paint­ings on old black- and­white stu­dio por­traits, many with in­ter­nal cap­tions, sim­i­larly skews the fa­mil­iar, play­fully prod­ding it into the realm of the odd or grotesque.

Stone­house shares the gallery with Min­neapo­lis artist Melissa Cooke, a for­mer grad stu­dent of his at the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin.

Cooke’s tech­nique of brush­ing pow­dered graph- ite onto pa­per yields a slightly soft­ened, stun­ning re­al­ism, rich in tonal­ity. Her strong­est works mimic spon­ta­neous ur­ban col­lages, seg­ments of walls lay­ered with graf­fiti, car­toon­ish sketches and poster- like im­ages of cul­tural f ig­ures, in­clud­ing Ben­jamin Franklin and Jean- Michel Basquiat. Cooke deftly con­jures the found vis­ual po­etry of such places, their free- as­so­cia­tive den­sity and zest.

Fred Stone­house

ARTIST Fred Stone­house’s mar­velously un­nerv­ing 2015 por­trait “Spots.”

Blaine Camp­bell

AN­DREW DAD­SON’S “Rose” nods to Jay DeFeo’s most fa­mous work of ex­cess, “The Rose.”

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